It is 12th February 2016. The readings are from Isaiah 58:1-9; and the Gospel from Matthew 9:14-15. The first reading teaches us the importance of fasting and its implications on us and around us. Lent is the right time to fast. Our fasting must accompany the acts of mercy. Our miserable outward look does not please the Lord. Charity must precede any fasting. Our charity has to include sharing our bread to the hungry, sheltering our homes to the homeless, clothing the naked with our personal clothing, showing the compassion to our families, neighbours and being kind to those who are in prison and those who are under the unjust clutches of the oppressing powers. Fasting must not just end only in self-denial and self-abnegation rather our fasting needs to have the social justice and charity. “Then your light will shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.” (Is. 58:8). Our fasting and penance has to go beyond the rituals. Our fasting and prayers must go beyond our personal spiritual growth. God is pleased when we consider including acts of mercy with kindness, charity, justice and generosity. The responsorial Psalm intercedes, “A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.” (Ps.50:19). In the Gospel Jesus instructs us to have the right reason to fast. The disciples of John the Baptism fasted as a sign of being sorry for the sins they have committed. The focus and the reason for fasting is our faith and love for Jesus. Jesus is our destination and motivation for our fasting. Let us be reminded by the words of John Chrysostom who said: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” May God bless your efforts. Have a good day.

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