Daily Readings Reflection for 3/11/11

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Scripture: Lectionary 222. Isaiah 58:1-9. Psalm 51:3-4,5-6,18-19. Matthew
9:14-15

Today’s Readings

One of the oldest brothers in the Society of Mary, the Marianists, wanted
to know if he has to fast during Lent. In listening to him, I realized he
did not want the answer “No!” His disposition and conviction led him to
enter into the spirit of Lent; all he needed to know is that he could do it
even though he is not obliged to do it. Such a response may help us who are
more reluctant to enter into the spirit of fasting during Lent though it is
not really a great burden: Ash Wednesday, and the Fridays of Lent, and then
Good Friday as the last day of fasting and abstinence.

Jesus gives us a good insight into when we should fast. He tells us that
the time of a wedding is not time for fasting; nor special celebrations
which include in some cities no fasting or abstinence on St. Patrick’s Day,
March 17! What if you are not Irish? Well, you can join them and pretend
you are if you are in a diocese where this fasting and abstinence is not
done.

Lent is that time when we think of fasting–in fact, it is the only time of
the year when we do fast as Catholics. The Orthodox are more stringent on
the law of fasting and on its length, but we are not Orthodox so we fast
less during Lent than they.

We are always led to focus on the Paschal Mystery of Christ during Lent and
this is the reason why we fast. Jesus, the bridegroom, will be taken away
from us through his death on the Cross. We recall this almost each time we
are participating in the Eucharist. We join in his sufferings, death and
resurrection during this season and this is done especially in our prayers,
our sacraments, and to a lesser degree in our fasting.

People often fast whenever their is a death in their family or when a dear
friend dies. They automatically take less food; they fast. Perhaps, our
fasting is aided by the motivation that our prayers give us and that the
liturgical celebrations of the weekdays during Lent help us to take on the
limited fasting required of us. The seven penitential psalms are quite
inspirational for Lenten prayer and can easily lead us to appreciate the
call to fast and to be generous with our time and our energy to help
others, or even to perform several of the corporal works of mercy or to
donate some of our earnings to those who are homeless and hungry. The
Pentitential Psalms are the following psalms: 6, 32, 38, 51, 101, 130,
and 143. Psalm 51 is an excellent one for preparing for the sacrament of
reconciliation while Psalm 130 is good to pray at the end of the day when
we review our day and thank God for the good we have done and ask pardon
for our failing to do good if that be the case. The Psalms show us that
the God of the Old Testament is full of loving-kindness, forgiveness, pure
love and total fidelity to us his people. They come from the heart of those
who were faithful to God and who faced a lot of oppression and hate from
others. We can emphasize with them and pray the psalms without however
having the same oppression from enemies or those who hate us. There are,
of course, many who because of wars understand how persons could feel
deeply about the attacks of others. A contextual reading of the psalms is
very important rather than trying to “sanatize” them for ourselves or our
communities.
You will be amazed to see how often the word love is found in the psalms
and also heart. We all should have listening hearts when praying the
psalms especially the seven penitential psalms during Lent. Amen.

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