Word of the day
Reading of the day
Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
"Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?"
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
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.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
Gospel of the day
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
"Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast."
Words of the Holy Father
"That is the fast pleasing to the Lord! Thus we understand what the Prophet Isaiah says to us about fasting and penitence: the fast that stands in relation with the people, the people to whom we belong: the people to whom we have been called and where we have been placed.
Thus, our greatest act of holiness is precisely in the flesh of our brother and the flesh of Jesus Christ. Today’s act of holiness — for us who stand at the altar — is not a hypocritical fasting. It means not being ashamed of the flesh of Christ who comes here today: for this is the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ.
It is going out to share our bread with the hungry, to care for the sick and the elderly, for those who can give us nothing in return: this is what it means not to be ashamed of the flesh. When I give alms, do I let the coins fall without touching their hand? When I give alms, do I look at my brother or sister in the eyes? When I know a person is sick do I visit him? Do I greet him with tenderness? Do not be ashamed of the flesh of our brothers: it is our flesh. We will be judged by our conduct toward these brothers and sisters". (Santa Marta, March 7, 2014)