Saturday, February 13, 2016

Beyond the Surface

Thus says the Lord God:  Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast; Tell my people their wickedness,  and the house of Jacob their sins.   They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways, Like a nation that has done what is just  and not abandoned the law of their God;  They ask me to declare what is due them, pleased to gain access to God.  “Why do we fast, and you do not see it?  afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?” Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,  and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!  Is this the manner of fasting I wish,of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes?  Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:  releasing those bound unjustly,  untying the thongs of the yoke;  Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them,and not turning your back on your own.
  Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!  (Isaiah 58;1-9a)

Breaking one's will and surrendering it to another for the love of God is the most difficult act of penance.  Bodily mortifications, fasting and other forms of penance are good in themselves.  But they can also proceed from self will.    The discipline of Lent is meant to discipline the body so the spirit could be set free.  Unencumbered from the burden of selfish attachments and desires, the spirit is made lighter so it can focus itself on the things of God.  Sometimes it can happen that the acts of penance can themselves become attachments and source of pride. 
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?  afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?” 
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,  and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. 
Do we sometimes try to buy God's favors by our good deeds?  God searches beyond the surface.  "Man looks at the appearance but God searches the heart," says the Imitation.  Work your salvation in silence but in earnest and sincerity.  Let us watch our tongue, curb our impatience and set our minds in doing small acts of charity.  Let us be busy with the works of God instead of being busybodies.

3 comments:

  1. Sr Helena a powerful scripture
    If only I could try to enact Gods Will more on a daily basis ... Instead of looking at the smaller daily issues in my life
    I am blessed to have so many beautiful blessings in my life from God
    Thank you for sharing
    Hugh

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  2. Was this in your night prayer last night? Moved me to tears....

    Psalm 88
    Prayer of a sick person
    This is your hour when darkness reigns (Luke 22:53).

    Lord my God, I call for help by day;
    I cry at night before you.
    Let my prayer come into your presence.
    O turn your ear to my cry.

    For my soul is filled with evils;
    my life is on the brink of the grave.
    I am reckoned as one in the tomb;
    I have reached the end of my strength,

    Like one alone among the dead,
    like the slain lying in their graves,
    like those you remember no more,
    cut off, as they are, from your hand.

    You have laid me in the depths of the tomb,
    in places that are dark, in the depths.
    Your anger weighs down upon me;
    I am drowned beneath your waves.

    You have taken away my friends
    and made me hateful in their sight.
    Imprisoned, I cannot escape;
    my eyes are sunken with grief.

    I call to you, Lord, all the day long;
    to you I stretch out my hands.
    Will you work your wonders for the dead?
    Will the shades stand and praise you?

    Will your love be told in the grave
    or your faithfulness among the dead?
    Will your wonders be known in the dark
    or your justice in the land of oblivion?

    As for me, Lord, I call to you for help;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
    Lord, why do you reject me?
    Why do you hide your face?

    Wretched, close to death from my youth,
    I have borne your trials; I am numb.
    Your fury has swept down upon me;
    your terrors have utterly destroyed me.

    They surround me all the day like a flood,
    they assail me all together.
    Friend and neighbor you have taken away:
    my one companion is darkness.

    Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
    — as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

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