“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”
This passage was my ‘assigned’ reading for this morning, and it seemed so ‘right’ — and so refreshing — after all the reading and writing about the ‘prosperity gospel’ bunch. It felt like confirmation. I understood, for a moment, how it pains Him to see His name being used to take money from the poor and needy and given to the rich and powerful. And not just by televangelists, but by our business and political leaders as well. And how hurt He is when we allow ourselves to be used by these false prophets instead of allowing Him to show us His love. He wants to love us and bless us, and He knows better than anyone how to do that. But be assured: His pain is not ineffectual, His anger is justified, and His power is great. Lord have mercy on us all.
But it goes beyond that. “To loose the chains of injustice… to set the oppressed free… to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…”
Is this not also what Jesus meant when He said “for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in…” When, Lord, did we see you this way? “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.”
Lord, open our eyes to the needs of the people around us. Help us to treat them as we would treat You. Help us to see them as You see them — not looking at cars, or fashion, or physical beauty, or career success, but looking on the heart.