daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Saturday, after Ash Wednesday, February 28, 2009
Is 58:9-14; Ps 85; Lk 5:27-32

"...if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday" (Is 58:10).

Isaiah has been teaching us yesterday and today that if we want our fasting to be acceptable before God, and if we want God's blessings for our fast, namely, that "your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday" (Is 58:10), then our life must be all of one piece. It must not be divided, fasting on the one hand, but then grieving God's Spirit on the other hand in many other ways by not obeying his will in all these other things. If our life is divided like this, our fasting will not be acceptable, and God will not bless us.

, then, do we have to do to please God with our fasting, so that he will bless us? We must pour ourselves "out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted" (Is 58:10). We can do this in many different ways: by giving alms, by cultivating vegetables and giving them away free to food banks for free distribution to the poor, by preaching the Gospel, by writing sermons and publishing them on the internet, etc. In this way we give both material and spiritual bread to the hungry, to the poor, and to those in need of it. We also give bread to the poor by showing them love and by speaking kindly and lovingly to our neighbor.

But if we want our life to be all of one piece, and not divided or self-contradictory, we must also eliminate our faults. We should not waste time uselessly, but rather always be doing something truly useful for God. We should be always praying, or reading something good for our spirit which will build us up in our faith, or studying something which will help us to preach better, or writing something that will build up the faith of our neighbor, or doing something that will help our neighbor, using the gifts God has given us for this purpose.

We are not to waste the time God has given us in the pleasures of this world. Only by living in this way will our life be integral, that is, all of one piece, and not divided or self-contradictory. And thus our fasting will be acceptable because it will be of one piece with the rest of our life, a life of loving God with all our heart, with an undivided heart, not divided between God on the one hand, and the pleasures of the world and the delights of the table on the other hand.

"Then shall your light break forth like the dawn" (Is 58:8), and "then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday" (Is 58:10). "...then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth" (Is 58:14).

These are the blessings the Lord wants to give us if we make our fasting to be of one piece with the rest of our life, loving God with an undivided heart, with all our heart, not with a heart divided between God and the pleasures of this world.




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