Isaiah 58:6-8 —— “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
From birth I had a skin infection on both my legs. One morning I read the above scripture. I understood that God is instructing us to feed the hungry, set the oppressed free, reach out to the poor and so on. It also promises that if we do so, then our light will shine like the noon day and healing will be speedy and our wounds will be healed.
Later in the day I got a call from Sr.Pia’s brother. He asked where I was preaching because he had a Muslim friend whose father was attacked during the prevalent Hindu/ Muslim riot. The man’s father was injured, his ribs were broken and they needed 20,000 rupees for his hospitalisation.
When I gave him that money, I made a prayer on the above scripture; I did it for him regardless of religion. We both returned to our homes and a month later my skin infection was cured never to trouble me again.
If we go through the motions of religious observance while at the same time refusing to share bread with the hungry, refusing to bring the poor and homeless into our homes and refusing to clothe the naked when we encounter them, our religious observance is futile and not pleasing to God.
Fasting is meant to encourage us to respond positively to God’s commands. As we deprive ourselves of certain physical needs – food or sleep, we are better able to see the weakness of our flesh and to hear God’s voice.
What does God really want from us? God calls for concrete action, helping others in need. The emphasis is on overcoming injustice with righteous acts. God does not want anyone under someone else’s yoke. Here is the beginning of the fight against slavery of every kind. God hates oppression. He wants his people to set oppressed people free. God’s people are dedicated to providing the basic needs of life to those who do not own them. We should feed the hungry and provide shelter for the poor, homeless wanderer. We need to clothe those who cannot afford proper clothing, and we should also make sure we take care of our own flesh and blood”
When we do this, God promises to reward our obedience with light (often a picture of blessing), healing (spiritual restoration), righteousness and protection from trouble.
If you look up into His face and say,” Yes, Lord, whatever it costs,” at that moment He will flood your life with His presence and power.