to share your bread…
Reflection By The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia.
Previously, in the Chapter of Isaiah, the prophet recognizes what the ‘faithful’ are doing, and he calls them on it.
During their day of fasting, they are fighting and quarreling. They make others work harder, and they beat people. They are not taking the act of fasting as a ‘self-improving’ action, rather they make themselves feel miserable, and take it out on others. The act of fasting could be viewed as a holy act, when in fact it was something done for ‘show’ and glorification. What good is it, when we do it only to impress others?
At this verse of Isaiah, the Prophet is asking them to look at the act of fasting in a different way. This beautiful reading calls the people to fast by outward acts of justice and mercy, rather than in ritualistic fashion. The passage reminds us of the kind of life the covenant to which God calls us. We act out of our commitment to God in a life leading toward justice, liberation and love for every person. We share our food with the hungry!
Too often, we see Lent as a time of self-denial, penitential actions, all looking inward into our souls and into our own personal relationship with God.
Instead, the Prophet tells us to shift our attention away from ourselves, and to reach our hands out to help those around us. It calls us into a time of faith that joins God’s struggle against evil, falsehood and hunger. Share your food!
We have come to know God as One who has wholly emptied Themselves of all, so that we might receive all that God has to offer. In so doing. God held nothing back.
We are called to live the life of God. To be the Imago Dei, which requires us to give away what we have, and to care for the poor, the naked and the hungry. In sharing our food with the hungry, there is an inner conversion from what we say, to what we do.
Share your food! This is a big step in conversion, which allows us to be the arms and voice of a Loving God, who calls us all into Community. A Community of God-beings, who seek to bring the love of God to the world. It is not something to be hoarded, but rather to be given away.
May this time of fasting recall for us a time to shift away from our own needs, and find a new way to be reconciled with God. May we recognize that ‘What does the Lord require, but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.’
The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer is the seventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia. Bishop Klusmeyer also serves as chair of the Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Seminary Federation’s board of directors. He is a member of the boards of trustees of Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria and The General Theological Seminary in New York City. Prior to becoming bishop of West Virginia, he was a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.