"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." Is 58: 6-8
If anyone has been slow to enter Lent, Isaiah pushes hard. Only two days after we have begun the journey towards Easter and asked for the grace of transformation, the prophet's instruction is clear and demanding. We must be just and compassionate. Otherwise, Lent will be a futile exercise of self discipline that has nothing to do with God or God's desires for the world.
Being just is an attitude, a way of looking at the world. It does not begin with wondering whether someone deserves our care, but with fulfilling God's challenge to help those in need without regard to social class, race, religion or culture. People without a voice, a job or a position of power need to know that God cares about and for them, and we, God's people, are the way God shows this to the them and to the world. We are God's face, ears and hands, gazing upon, listening to and reaching out for anyone, but especially for those bound unjustly.
Hearing God's challenge and responding is not the work of a single day, week or month, but of a lifetime. When we make time and take time to listen to the world as it is, we cannot not hear and see those in need. More important, over time we learn to respond with compassion and humility. Most of us are only two paychecks a way from poverty.
Today, pray for the homeless wherever they live, but especially for those in your own city or town.
What is your attitude towards the chronically needy?