Friday after Ash Wednesday

Matthew 9:14-15 

When the bridegroom is taken from them, then they will fast

John’s disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’

Isaiah 58:1-9 

The sort of fast that pleases me

Thus says the Lord:

Shout for all you are worth,

  raise your voice like a trumpet.

Proclaim their faults to my people,

  their sins to the House of Jacob.

They seek me day after day,

  they long to know my ways,

like a nation that wants to act with integrity

  and not ignore the law of its God.

They ask me for laws that are just,

  they long for God to draw near:

‘Why should we fast if you never see it,

  why do penance if you never notice?’

Look, you do business on your fast-days,

  you oppress all your workmen;

look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast

  and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today

  will never make your voice heard on high.

Is that the sort of fast that pleases me,

  a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed,

  lying down on sackcloth and ashes?

Is that what you call fasting,

  a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me

 – it is the Lord who speaks –

to break unjust fetters and

  undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

  and break every yoke,

to share your bread with the hungry,

  and shelter the homeless poor,

to clothe the man you see to be naked

  and not turn from your own kin?

Then will your light shine like the dawn

  and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you

  and the glory of the Lord behind you.

Cry, and the Lord will answer;

  call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

Psalm 50(51):3-6,18-19 

A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.

  In your compassion blot out my offence.

O wash me more and more from my guilt

  and cleanse me from my sin.

A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

My offences truly I know them;

  my sin is always before me

Against you, you alone, have I sinned;

  what is evil in your sight I have done.

A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

For in sacrifice you take no delight,

  burnt offering from me you would refuse,

my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.

  A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Love For The Poor

2443 God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: “Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you”; “you received without pay, give without pay.” It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When “the poor have the good news preached to them,” it is the sign of Christ’s presence.

2444 “The Church’s love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition.” This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to “be able to give to those in need. It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.

2445 Love for the poor is incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.

2446 St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” “The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity”:

When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.

2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?

2448 “In its various forms – material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death – human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Savior, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his brethren. Hence, those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere.”

2449 Beginning with the Old Testament, all kinds of juridical measures (the jubilee year of forgiveness of debts, prohibition of loans at interest and the keeping of collateral, the obligation to tithe, the daily payment of the day-laborer, the right to glean vines and fields) answer the exhortation of Deuteronomy: “For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in the land.'”Jesus makes these words his own: “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” In so doing he does not soften the vehemence of former oracles against “buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals . . .,” but invites us to recognize his own presence in the poor who are his brethren:

When her mother reproached her for caring for the poor and the sick at home, St. Rose of Lima said to her: “When we serve the poor and the sick, we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.