Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke? (Isa. 58:6)
Let the oppressed go free. Israel had those definitions set early in their history and it was repeated through the generations.
Every third year you shall bring out the full tithe of your produce for that year, and store it within your towns; the Levites, because they have no allotment or inheritance with you, as well as the resident aliens, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, may come and eat their fill so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work that you undertake. (Deut. 14:28,29)
The marginalized. The ones who couldn’t take care fully of themselves because the systems were not allowing for human flourishing. The foreigner. The orphans. The widows.
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners; (Isa. 61:1)
We are called to bring relief and freedom, not further oppression. We look to those marginalized in our world today, places where systems keep people from human flourishing. We dive in with the presence of Jesus and work for ways to change up systems so freedom can flow. Flourishing can flow.
THIS is the “fast” chosen for us.
Today… currently… immediately… one opportunity is Ukraine. We can give “alms” to relief efforts working among the over 1 million refugees displaced by the war. We can look for local opportunities if there is a significant population of Ukrainians among us.
Lent is not just for “giving up,” but for “giving out.”