Sackcloth and Ashes

You think you’ve got it tough, look at what the king of Nineveh said to his subjects in today’s first reading.

He rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
“Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.

Not just the people had to fast, but even the cows and sheep had to do penance.  “Sackcloth and ashes for everybody!”  The people weren’t just forbidden to eat,  they couldn’t even have a drink of water.

Today we’ve “dumbed down” fasting to where a lot of people would have to eat MORE to meet the requirements.

I think the point is that fasting is a state of mind.  Where people in Biblical times had to be told what to do, hopefully here in the modern world we’re a little more mature.  There’s quite a difference between eating one normal meal and two smaller meals and having no food and water at all.

Maybe your sins are so severe that you need the old-fashioned fast to cleanse your soul.  If you feel the need to head out into the desert, then we’ll see you on Easter. Hopefully you’re in a little more of a state of grace and just need a gentle reminder.  I hope so.

Have a blessed and holy Lent!


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