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`Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not?’

February  24, Friday after Ash Wednesday
Isaiah 58:1-9a; Matthew 9:14-15

Often, we ask like the Israelites of Isaiah’s time `Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not?’ (Is 58:3) or like the disciples of John who came to him with the question, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not your disciples?”

We do little something to fulfil our religious obligation, like fasting a day, or abstaining from meat or going to church, and then expect to be immediately recognized and rewarded by God for it. We even complain to God listing things we have done for God and bargain for a good ‘price.’

True spirituality is beyond religious acts like pious acts and fasting.

The daily acts of piety are good for penance, purification, and discipline, but it takes justice as the minimum requirement to please God and charity as the ultimate act to be noticed by God. Fasting and penance without charity is worthless and of little benefit.

God asks through the prophet, will you call this fast: ‘You quarrel, fight, and hit your brother and then sitting on ashes and wearing sack cloth or stooping the head. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high” (v5.)

Is 58: 6-7 describes the fast that pleases God: stop pointing finger and speaking wickedness, undo the thongs of the yoke, let the oppressed go free; share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, cover him, and not hide yourself from your own people?

Jesus made it clear in his own characteristic style: If the bridegroom (Jesus) is with us, there is no need of doing penance (fasting), but when the bridegroom (Jesus) is away from us, we must fast. To be with Jesus, requires to obey his commandment to deny self, take up the cross and follow.  

For reflection:
Is it worth leading a good life? Yes, it is. Meditate on Isaiah 58:9 and we will begin to see the value of a life pleasing to God: ‘Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.’  ‘Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.’


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.