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(Part 20)


March 11, 2011
Today’s reading: Isaiah 58:1-9

One of our favorite songs in community is “Here I Am, Lord.” In this song, we respond to the Lord’s call on whom He will send to do His work in the world. This is also the response of the prophet Isaiah to God’s call. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am;’ I said; ‘send me!’” (Is 6:8). When we respond in that way, allowing the Lord to do with us as He wills, then He sends us to do His work. To Isaiah, God said, “Go and say to this people: ....” (Is 6:9a). That started Isaiah off on his wonderful prophetic ministry.

Likewise, as God calls us in CFC-FFL, when we respond, then God sends us forth to bring His good news of salvation to the whole world, to renew the family, and to defend life. With His call and sending comes His anointing and equipping, together with His grace and strength.

But there is an interesting aspect in today’s passage from Isaiah. It is not we who answer “Here I am” in response to God’s call, but it is God who says “Here I am” in response to our call! “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!” (Is 58:9a).

That is absolutely astounding and amazing. God answers to our call! It is not we the servants who answer to the Master’s call, but the other way around. But then, indeed Jesus has made himself the suffering servant, serving his people without holding anything back, even his very life.

What triggers such an amazing response from God? It is true fasting. It is justice and mercy.

It is first of all the work with the materially poor. It is giving food, shelter and clothing to those without them (Is 58:7). It is working at social justice, helping to free those who are oppressed (Is 58:6). Our response in CFC-FFL is our work with the poor and the larger work of our Social Ministries. It is our work of building the Church of the Poor.

But there is always a spiritual dimension to God’s work. If we fed, clothed and sheltered the poor but did not proclaim God’s good news of salvation to them, we would still be remiss. We would in fact be missing out on the most important aspects of our calling, which is evangelization. “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.” (Is 58:1). We are to evangelize with a passion, with boldness, giving of our all.

What in particular are we called to do? We work to set free those oppressed by Satan, to break the yoke of the kingdom of darkness. We are to share Christ the Bread of Life with those who are hungry, bring those astray into the shelter of God’s dominion, clothe the naked with the garment of righteousness.

In this spiritual work, our own holiness and righteousness are crucial. We do the very divine work of God and we must be fitting instruments. We are to be just and merciful. Indeed, these aspects of true fasting are what will make us effective. “Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!” (Is 58:4b).

What is the result of true fasting? “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn” (Is 58:8a). We are called by Jesus to be the light to the world. True fasting will enable our light to truly be seen, a light that pushes out the darkness at the break of dawn. Further, “the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” (Is 58:8d). We are God’s servants through whom He intends to show His glory (Is 49:3). True fasting enables us to become those effective witnesses through whose work the glory of God shines forth.

Remember, with justice and mercy, with responding to God’s call to be His instruments, then we ourselves can call upon God for all we need to do His work. And God will answer, “Here I am.”

God will renew our strength (Is 58:11b). We can finally say, “My God is now my strength!”

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