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. ~ Isaiah 58: 6 – 7
I must have read these verses many times before but not seen them – until today. Today, still clueless on how to order my Lent this year, my answer comes:
Not in the way I envisioned it but to fast as the Lord wills it for me.
Yet, something in Isaiah’s verses puzzle me. Why are they set that way?
Releasing those bound unjustly comes before untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed, comes before breaking every yoke;
How do you release those bound? You untie the thongs of the yoke. How do you set free the oppressed? Break the yoke that imprisons them. To my mind, it would have made more sense to reverse the order:
Untie the thongs of the yoke to release those bound unjustly.
Break every yoke to set free the oppressed
The call to action, followed by the objective, the effect.
And yet, it isn’t ordered that way.
But why does the order even matter to me? Something niggles at me and refuses to go away.
Slowly and quietly, a tiny vine uncurls its tendril in my mind.
That is the order of consoling.
My Lent this year is to battle hidden in the Heart of Jesus, each day, answering the call to console Him – for His sorrow over those bound unjustly, freeing the oppressed, sheltering them, the homeless, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, despising not my own even as I busy myself with these calls. To console Him each and every day as He calls me to. To console Him in prayer, in willful silence carved out of my busy days, in uniting my small sufferings to His. Even as each one of those consolations becomes increasingly difficult for me as the winds make wild their feral tempests, trying to drag me into the confusion that encircles our days now, nothing must withhold me from the hidden offering.
For this is the fast my Jesus asks of me this year. Console Me for the suffering of this world. On a Friday, when I’ve set aside my Fridays of this year for consoling Jesus, I receive the understanding of why Isaiah’s verses are ordered in the way they are.
I must focus on the consoling,
not on the fighting and slaying.
For it is only when I console my wounded Saviour, that thongs are untied, and yokes broken.