Recent Priests' Retreat -- Milt Jordan
Friday after Ash Wednesday -2013
Pretend that the sun is rising over the Potomac River if you are praying in the early morning. Actually it is setting around 5:30 PM on February 3, 2013.
Please read carefully the voice of God to the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading. If you read it once or twice, you may begin to wonder why those of us who are were adults before the changes introduced by Vatican II. Doesn't it seem strange if we consider the fasting and other practices that God tells Isaiah to preach to the leaders of the time? Likewise you might have begun to see what the Pope and all the others were seeking to achieve for our Church. God told Isaiah this: "Is not this the fast I chose?...?((58:6). God was making clear that his desires were deeply rooted not in things but in the lives and needs of our fellow human beings. He favored a "fast" that would benefit prisoners, the poor and needy.
For those who are my age and older and perhaps some a few years younger, the movement of the Church to what some call "social concerns" is what the world's bishops discerned as the will of the Holy Spirit. It is bringing us back to the earliest days in the Old Testament. Perhaps there was the reality that most Catholics were forbidden to read the Old Testament even though most could not because the OT books could only be printed in Latin, Greek and Hebrews. Most who were not scholars could read none of those languages. Consequently the Old Testament was far from the experience of most Catholics until more modern times. Perhaps had Catholics read the Old Testament books, like Isaiah, they would have know what God's will was for the fasts of Lent.
For us we share in the blessing that biblical studies have brought us to understanding God better than ever before. From those early books we can discover more true history about God. We have to know that the composers of such books were simply fulfilling the will of God. If we, true "ambassadors" of Christ, as mentioned in the Ash Wednesday posting, build our Lenten practices around these wishes of God, we become "Repairer(s) of the breach." Also "Restorer(s) of ruined dwellings (Is 58:12). What God and the Lenten thrust of Vatican II are teaching us is this: "A true social morality will ensure prosperity" (NAB, footnote for IS 58:6-12.
Are you surprised by these. Can you open your heart to God to help his willing to become alive for the people of century?