FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY 16th FEBRUARY, 2018.
READINGS: Isaiah 58: 1-9, Ps. 51, Matthew 9: 14-15
THEME: There is a reason why God allows things go the wrong way.
This season of Lent is a great opportunity that God gives us to think about so many things in our lives. It brings us to complete thought and consciousness of so many things going on in our lives. God is not evil or wicked but loving and caring and full of mercy. These are his irrefutable images. One might wonder the association of God with wrong, evil and bad things that happen to humans he loves and cares for in mercy. Since he is all knowing and loves all that he has made, why does he allow things go wrong in our lives and why does he live and watch calamity befall on those he professed love for? The answers to these questions are not as simple as we may think and the response for it cannot be easily comprehensible or acceptable in human reasoning.
Beloved, this season of Lent has many advocacy to play for God when we read in between lines as in the book of Isaiah today. We cannot in anyway claim to be Holy before God or have right to demand good things from God as if he is in debt and obliged to pay us back by all means. It is not even our good deeds that bring us blessings since he blesses the good, the bad and the ugly; he allows rain and sun to fall on the saints and sinners as well. But the Prophet Isaiah calls all of us to know that we have all transgressed even though we seek him daily. We delight to know his ways and try to follow his ways, we love being in his house and love praying to him and doing many pious devotions and things. These may not be licence to getting all things right and well as we desire and pray for. Certain things are still wrong even in our longing for him.
Many times we behave as if we are a righteous people who did not forsake the ordinances of our God. We ask God for righteous judgment as if we are truly righteous. Yes we fast, we pray, we give alms and do other forms of charity and because we do these we think that God is the defaulter who is not giving us our due. So we ask: Why have we fasted and he did not see it? Why have we humbled ourselves and he took no notice of it? Why did we pray and he did not answer? But Isaiah indicts us by saying: In our fast we seek our own pleasure and vainglory. In it we oppress the less privileged like our workers and servants. We quarrel, fight, gossip, hate, hit each other as we fast with wicked hearts. We like the disciples of John keep criticizing others’ deeds and judging them with condemnation. Fasting and piety of this type like yours would not make your prayers heard. Our bowing of heads and taking the posture of holiness and showing pretentious and unwholesome penitence is not really acceptable in God’s standard of judgment. We fast because we do not have the bridegroom; he cannot be with us because we displease him. If we are with him truly we shall no more fast because we have got all our heart’s desire. Look truly for the bridegroom now and have him.
Beloved, go and loose bonds of wickedness, undo the thongs of the yoke others’ carry and some that we give them to carry, let the oppressed go free, share your bread with the hungry in humility of heart with spiritual rectitude, give the homeless a dwelling place in your midst and cover the naked. Then shall your light break forth and your healing effected; with this the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard, then you shall call and the Lord will hear and say to you: Here I am for you. May we have a truly broken heart this Lent so that the Lord would not spurn us; may we truly know our transgressions and know we have sinned against him. God, grant us a humbled and contrite heart from this day forward, Amen.