Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent when we focus on reflection, fasting, and prayer.

Many Christians choose to fast during Lent. It has also been a custom to give up a favorite food or a luxury to dedicate this personal sacrifice to God. This is not necessarily wrong unless this act reflects the shallowness of our understanding of what fasting is.

In Isaiah 58 the prophet highlights shallow ways in which people pray and fast to seek God’s favor and justice. The prophet denounces those who fast but at the same time exploit their workers, fight, and even physically attack others.

A believer may fast for days on end, dress in clothes of mourning, bow his or her head, and lie in ashes for all to see; but these pious activities are worthless if they are not accompanied by acts of compassion.

The fasting God seeks is not a religious performance. God seeks fasting that works for justice, sets free the oppressed, shares our own food with the hungry, opens our home to the poor, and not only clothes the naked but acknowledges them and treats them as we treat our own.

Notice this is not a call to give handouts to nameless people. God calls us to be in relationship with those who live a life different than ours, to welcome them into our lives, and to be with those society rejects and marginalizes.

It is then, when we pour out our lives for the outsider, that our prayers and our fasting reach God and our lives become light in the darkness.

Loving God, forgive our shallow activities, and give us the courage to live our faith through actions that are instruments of liberation so that we may be in community with our neighbors who suffer and feel rejected. Amen.

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer Luke 4:1-13

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Leccionario Semanal
March 4–10, 2019
Resumen de la Escritura

As we begin the season of Lent, the readings provide several images of how we might prepare our hearts. Deuteronomy focuses on gratitude with a recitation of the history of God’s faithfulness. The people are instructed to offer their gifts to God as a response to God’s generosity. The psalmist focuses on faithfulness. If we put our confidence in God, God will protect and sustain us. In Romans, Paul emphasizes faith. Our confession of faith from the mouth should come from the heart, and this heart confession saves us. The story of the temptation of Jesus admonishes us to know biblical truth. The devil tempts Jesus with half-truths—even scriptural quotes—but Jesus counters with correct understanding of God’s word and God’s character.

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Deuteronomy 26:1-11. We no longer offer physical sacrifices to God. How do you give the “first fruits” of your labor to God in thanksgiving?
Read Psalm 91:2, 9-16. Recall a time you have felt abandoned or insecure. How did God respond to your call?
Read Romans 10:8b-13. Paul learned to see those he once despised as his equals in Christ. Whom does God call you to learn to love?
Read Luke 4:1-13. How do you follow Jesus’ example to use scripture to resist temptation?

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