Readings: Isaiah 58:9-14, Ps. 86:1-6, Luke 5:27-32

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick.” (Luke 5:30-31)

Today’s readings are a continuation of yesterday’s message: The fasting that pleases God is not merely a deprivation from food but our active love and concern for others. While our first reading today emphasises the corporal works of mercy (feeding the hungry and attending to people’s physical well-being), our Gospel passage considers the spiritual works of mercy (showing care and concern for sinners). Let us now consider these lessons in detail.

1. Feed the Hungry: “If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness, and your gloom be like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:9-10) Stop every form of oppression and inhuman treatment. This is not the time to waste food or water. Remember that fasting is useless if no one is benefiting from it.

2. Visit the Afflicted (The Sick and Prisoners): Many persons afflicted with sickness in hospitals, care homes, or rehabilitation centres need our care. Visit the sick, offset bills, and pray with them. On the other hand, do you know that there are millions of innocent persons afflicted in our prisons? If you can help one innocent person regain their freedom, your light will rise in the darkness.

3. Stop Speaking Ill about Others (Gossiping, Character Assassination): Remove from you the “pointing of the finger and speaking of evil.” Refrain from behaving as the devil described in Revelation as “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Unlike the Pharisees who murmured, Levi knew he needed a physician. Later on, Jesus would say: “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31-32). Rather than exert your energy on pointing fingers at others, become the change you want to see in others.

4. Respect the Sabbath Day and Keep It Holy: “If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath… if you honour it, not going your ways, serving your interests, or pursuing your affairs; then you shall take delight in the Lord.” (Isaiah 58:13-14) Observing the Sabbath goes beyond attending Mass on Sunday; it entails dedicating the whole day to God. Sunday should not be a day to pursue your business. Spend time with your family; share God’s words.

5. Pray and Work for the Conversion of Sinners: Beyond refraining from pointing accusing fingers at others, the season of Lent offers us ample opportunity to pray for the conversion of sinners. Let us become like Jesus to the Levi’s in our world today. Don’t stop condemning evil, but go beyond pointing fingers; show love to sinners, reach out to them, and lead them out of darkness to God’s wonderful light. This is the fasting that God desires.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, teach me to love you in my fellow brothers and sisters: the sick, the poor, the outcast, and the sinners. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saturday after Ash Wednesday. Bible Study: Isaiah 58:9-14, Ps. 86:1-6, Luke 5:27-32).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu