In today’s 1st reading (Isaiah 58:1-9) , the prophet Isaiah describes a proper fast. He points out that lying in sack cloth and ashes is not the way to go. Instead, he calls us to be proactive. “Release those bound unjustly! Set free the oppressed, breaking every yoke! Share your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless! Clothe the naked!” In other words, “don’t just sit there, do something!
Giving up your favorite food (or drink) or fasting from too much television are good things, especially if they make you a better version of yourself (thank you Matthew Kelly). But what we’re really called to do is to be active, not passive. Share your faith with others through your words, and your actions. If you’ve decided to give up candy for Lent, then take the money you would have spent and give it to a worthy cause.
Spend the time you normally spend in front of the television and volunteer at a local food pantry or homeless shelter. If your circumstances don’t allow you to make such an active time commitment, then spend the time in prayer. Pray for those less fortunate than you, or pray for someone you know who’s fallen away from the faith. Better yet, invite that person to come to mass with you this weekend. Imagine the potential good you can do if you invite a different person to mass each week of Lent. That’s six potential disciples you could create! What an exciting possibility!
The point Isaiah is making is that, while our faith is a private matter, it’s meant to be shared. Jesus told the Apostles, “Go and make disciples of all lands, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” He calls us to do the same.