I am actually writing this on Monday, sadly to say, but our Tanach of the week is interesting and is taken from one of the lessons appointed for Yom Kippur.
First of all, God expresses his love. He wants the road cleared of obstacles, he promises his people he will not give up on them. If they can repent of their greed, then God will heal them. He also gives a promise, that needs to be taken into account: "I have promised that none who are evil will live in peace."
God instructs Isaiah to shout: Tell the people they have sinned. They worship and claim to seek justice, but God does not answer them. Why does God treat them this way when they are fasting (This lesson takes place in the context of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement). Because their minds are not truly on God. The people are being greedy and selfish, thinking only of themselves and taking advantage of their workers.
Is fasting and and dressing in sackcloth what God truly wants? No, to worship God in truth is to free the prisoners, to share food with those who are hungry, to share your home with the homeless, to clothe those in need and not turn away our relatives!! (note: he doesn't say it is to have soup kitchens, build orphanages and shelters, but to take care of it ourselves). So often, we let the institutional church do the work of the body of Christ. Shame on us! When WE do these things, then our light will shine for all to see, and God's glory will defend us. Jesus didn't say build orphanages and shelters, but for us to go out, just as the church did in its first centuries, when it grew by leaps and bounds because people served the Lord by serving the poor, weak and helpless.
Do we serve the poor today? No in fact we are becoming greedy as the Israelites in the time of Isaiah. I note today that a certain rather radical union is rather proud because its members get $7.20 per hour, but at least they have insurance! Seven twenty an hour? Seven twenty an hour? That is fine for a college or high school student, but for a man to work all day at $7.20 per hour. How can he do this? He cannot. He either has to get food stamps to survive, medicaid for his kids, etc. Is it really the job of the United States government to subsidize employers who make their employees work hard and underpay them? Shame on us. What about all the illegals who are hired because they will work without insurance (and end up in the emergency room). Are we called to subsidize these industries as well? Are we called to subsidise doctors too, whose offices are filled with young women (and men) who are paid a pittance to work hard all day? What about fifty plus million children aborted since Roe vs. Wade? Shame, shame upon this nation. A man needs to be paid a fair wage so as to support his family without being subsidised by the government. Greed greed everywhere. We want it cheap without thinking of those who work for that money. God will condemn this nation if there is no repentance. God will also condemn and punish this nation for abortion. Seventy per cent of the population according to some studies oppose abortion, but the courts and certain people claim it a right to murder innocent children for the sins of their parents, or even worse, for convenience. Will this nation repent in time?
If we let our light shine by taking care of the poor, feeding the hungry, treating people fairly, then God will bless us and help us to truly celebrate that he has forgiven our sins when we truly repent of them. We will fast, and study God's word, but it will be a time of rejoicing for truly knowing God.
What will you do this day?
Mar Michael Abportus