Day 3: Fasting for Justice

Fasting for Justice

BY CRYSTAL CATALAN | February 24, 2023
Today’s Readings

It is the first Friday of Lent. The marks on our foreheads have well been washed away from Ash Wednesday, and perhaps you are engaging in your own fast today, beyond meat or limiting your meals.

Regardless of where you find yourself, we are reminded today by the Prophet Isaiah of how we can truly fast during this Lenten season. Among his declarations, he shares: release those bound, set free the oppressed, share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked. There is no question. These are pretty direct.

Hearing all these things, reading through this list of things that we can do—it can no doubt seem very overwhelming.

When the noise of injustice seems to be unbearable these days—through both violent and insidious acts of racism, greed, grief—the chaos can get in the way and I can find myself feeling frozen instead of getting my feet to move and do something.Fasting for Justice

And other times, I find that I jump right into the cause of something, without taking time to reflect and spend time with God in prayer and contemplation, just as Jesus did in the desert. 

And sometimes, that’s the really hard part. 

To be still, and think, what can I do? And then, to go do it.

I remind myself that no act is too small. Releasing those bound and setting free the oppressed can look like signing my name on a petition for a cause I really care about, like just immigration reform or for an end to the death penalty. It can mean taking difficult steps towards forgiving someone who has really hurt me, or even forgiving and freeing myself from negative self-talk or painful memories. And the acts of sharing bread with the hungry, providing shelter, and clothing those in need challenge me to rethink some of the decisions I make, and invite me to engage in these works of charity while continuing to persevere towards justice.

For Reflection:

  • How is God calling me to fast for justice during this Lenten season?
  • What can I do for someone in need during this season, which may lighten the load for them just a bit more? 
  • How is God inviting me to engage in this Lenten season differently than in past Lenten seasons? How can I live this Lenten season differently?
10 replies
  1. Cathe
    Cathe says:

    Jesus is inviting me to just “show up” and be present with him in order to “go deeper”
    Possibly in silence – just listening

    • Anne
      Anne says:

      Yes, Showing Up. Daniel Siegel, MD and Tina Bryson, Ph. D. offer the 4 S’s of showing that are my 2023 Lenten practice.
      Safe: 1. Do no harm; 2. Repair – reconnect and if necessary, apologize; create a safe-harbor environment.
      Seen. Attuning to another’s thoughts and emotional state so that the other feels understood.
      Soothed: “Offer your P-E-A-C-E: presence, engagement, affection, calm, and empathy.
      Secure: Results from the first three.

  2. Pav
    Pav says:

    I too focused on Isaiah’s suggestions this morning. Still searching for my call, I’m mostly encouraged to diminish my ego. I set out each day with good intentions and in my examen, see how I slipped. My daily cross. Perhaps it starts with giving up negative thoughts from the past. So easy is it to slip back there. I now recognize that as the evil one trying to derail me again. I brush it away. Jesus, help me to model your humility.

  3. Beth
    Beth says:

    I too, am trying to reflect on what is God asking me to fast from.
    I am trying to look past myself, my ego and my comfort. To see the bigger veiw.
    I do feel that I need to go deeper into Scripture and hear God leading me to Him.

  4. Ann
    Ann says:

    I feel like I do work for social justice in my own way. What is missing is my connection to God. I have to find a way to deepen what has become a shallow relationship with God. I know there are scripture study classes, even some on line I could join. I will look and try to join one.

  5. Barbara Mora
    Barbara Mora says:

    I love Lent, the challenge and discipline of it. Each year ( for the past 13 years) I fast from some character trait or issue that I need to work on. Each day I write some thoughts in my journal. It helps that I’m retired. This year’s fast is from “careless speech”. I’ve already messed up on day 2, as my husband pointed out kindly, since I asked him to do so.
    In past years I’ve fasted from Worrying, Judgment, Complaining, Expectation, and others. You’d think I’d be in pretty good shape by now, but I’ll always have a lot to work on.

  6. Deacon Ciaran Pitchford
    Deacon Ciaran Pitchford says:

    Thank-you for the Lenten inspiration for the message mirrors what I sent to our Prayer Group in reference to today’s Reading from Isaiah.
    My reflection;
    “May the “DEEPEST PANGS” of our inner self be released this Lenten Season while reminding us that Lent is not so much about “GIVING UP” but more-so… about “GIVING”.

  7. Greg Immethun
    Greg Immethun says:

    Among his declarations, he shares: release those bound, set free the oppressed, share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked. There is no question. These are pretty direct.

    Perhaps Isaiah’s words can be seen a different way. “declaration” and “direct” indicate an underlying punitive nature to the words and this implies guilt if they are not followed. I don’t believe Jesus ever guilt tripped anyone into doing anything. He simply showed us the pathway to “The Kingdom of God” and how beautiful it could be, but also how hard it is because of our egoistic nature. I find that interpreting scriptures, which on the surface seem to be threats, as invitations instead, serves me better in moving closer to God. Then I see them as a beautiful pathway that no one “in their right mind” would pass up. But we are not “in our right mind” when we are held captive by our egoic small self. Love is always stronger than human force and control. In the end we have no power or control anyway and we realize it’s only an illusion of our own ego and the only real force is Love.

  8. sonja
    sonja says:

    Why have we moved away from the idea of fasting from food during Lent?
    In a world where so many children die of starvation each day and millions go hungry, can we not reduce our own calorific intake each day to nourish our spiritual lives and bless others with God’s love.
    After all lent is in spring time and if we are in tune with our land, there is not much around, just a few herbs to help cleanse our bodies from toxins. And in the Pacific, this month is also a time of fasting after the abundance of sea food in summer and before the planted vegetables are ready to harvest in autumn. Living in a world where supermarkets provide everything all year round, it is easy to lose touch with our Creator and those who are living in poor countries with nothing to eat, or no money to buy food.


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