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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Lent 3: Friday after Ash Wednesday

In today’s first reading the Prophet Isaiah tells us the kind of fasting the Lord desires:

Releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own (Isaiah 58:6-7).

There are three key practices to truly being a disciple of Jesus: fasting, prayer, and good works. Most people try fasting—giving up something for Lent, often candy, alcohol, desserts, and so forth. This is a good discipline to follow and one that is not easy.

Many of us pray more during the Lenten season. We might go to daily Mass, say an extra rosary, or read a spiritual book. Again, this is a wonderful way to deepen our relationship with God.

Still, I think the third pillar of Lent, good works, may be the most difficult. Good works could include helping at a soup kitchen, donating to the poor, assisting a needy neighbor, forgiving someone who has hurt us, and resisting the temptation to gossip about someone. As we begin our journey of Lent, may all three invitations from the prophet move us to deepen our love for Jesus and one another.

Father Patrick Woods, C.Ss.R.
Bethpage, N.Y.

Scripture readings for today: Isaiah 58:1-9; Psalm 51; Matthew 9:14-15