Isaiah 58:1-9 / Matthew 9:14-15
"There's no business like show business". That's the title of a song as well as a movie in the '50s.
When we think about it, for other kinds of professions the reward is in the pay, but in show business, it is not only the pay but also the applause and maybe even admiration for those who can sing and dance and act.
The Lenten season began on Ash Wed and in the gospel passage for that day, Jesus pointed out three spiritual disciplines - prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Yet He also warned that these three spiritual disciplines could also end up like "show business", ie. for others to see and to win their admiration.
Today's readings talk about fasting. The 1st reading quoted what the people thought about fasting: "Why should we fast if you never see it, why do penance if you never notice?" It seems that the people thought of fasting as a way to get God's attention and even to get rewarded for it.
And the response from the Lord is this: Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me - to break the unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin?
In other words, our act of fasting should also lead us to hunger for charity towards others. Our fasting should help us cleanse ourselves of selfishness and be filled with the grace of kindness for others.
If not, then our fasting may just be "show business" and there will be no reward for that.