Daily Bible Reading - February 16, 2024
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Daily Bible Reading - February 16, 2024

Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc.

FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY

Psalter: Week 4 / (Violet)

Day of abstinence from meat (age 14 and up).

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 51: 3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19: A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

1st Reading: Isaiah 58: 1-9a

Cry out aloud for all you are worth; raise your voice like a trumpet blast; tell my people of their offenses, Jacob’s family of their sins.

Is it true that they seek me day after day, longing to know my ways, as a people that does what is right and has not forsaken the word of its God?

They want to know the just laws and not to drift away from their God. “Why are we fasting,” they complain, “and you do not even see it?

We are doing penance and you never notice it.” Look, on your fast days you push your trade and you oppress your laborers. Yes, you fast but end up quarreling, striking each other with wicked blows. Fasting as you do will not make your voice heard on high.

Is that the kind of fast that pleases me, just a day to humble oneself? Is fasting merely bowing down one’s head, and making use of sackcloth and ashes?

Would you call that fasting, a day acceptable to Yahweh?

See the fast that pleases me: breaking the fetters of injustice and unfastening the thongs of the yoke, setting the oppressed free and breaking every yoke. Fast by sharing your food with the hungry, bring to your house the homeless, clothe the one you see naked and do not turn away from your own kin.

Then will your light break forth as the dawn and your healing come in a flash. Your righteousness will be your vanguard, the glory of Yahweh your rearguard. Then you will call and Yahweh will answer, you will cry and he will say, I am here.

Gospel: Matthew 9: 14-15

Then the disciples of John came to him with the question, “How is it, that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not your disciples?” Jesus answered them,

“How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The time will come, when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then, they will fast.”

REFLECTION:

“Why do we fast?”

Do we fast merely to discipline our bodies or also to help us grow from our faintheartedness? We can fast to simply show off. We can also fast in order to feel good, satisfying our pietistic appetite.

Isaiah, in the first reading, proclaimed that the kind of fasting pleasing to the Lord is the one that breaks the fetters of injustice and sets the oppressed free. It is also the fasting that shares food with the hungry, shares house with the homeless and clothes the naked. (cf. Isa. 58:7) Thus, we fast that we may take risks for social justice and lift up the quality of life.

We fast neither to satisfy our ego through mortification nor to feel good about ourselves because of our frugal practices. We fast to strengthen our hearts that we may become committed Christians.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains that his disciples would fast only after he has gone. Jesus has to offer himself first so that his followers would have an example to emulate. Jesus fasted before his ministry, which eventually led to his supreme act of self-giving.

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