"Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high." Isaiah 58:4b (NRSV)
"Is this not the fast I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn," Isaiah 58:6-8a (NRSV)
"Then shall you call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday." Isaiah 58:9-10 (NRSV)
Here, as with all the prophets, social justice - the improvement God calls for - is the priority, not fasting or sacrifices.
The widow (women without income), the fatherless (those without support), the hungry, the naked, the poor. Criminals (those who have gone astray),strangers (refugees, asylum seekers). The sick (those with mental illness, drug addiction, disability, or illness), the friendless (the lonely), the broken-hearted (those who have been rejected).
These are God's concern
Improvement is called for. Not just meeting obligations out of fear but real friendship and community.
The problem of homelessness would be solved if people who go to Church on Sundays let out their second houses at low rent to people who have nowhere to live instead of going away on yet another overseas trip.
"I worked hard for that money."
"They're lazy good for nothings."
"They all smoke and take drugs - that's why they've got no money."
"They're all dole bludgers."
"'For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.'" Mark 4:25 (NRSV)
"This is not a charitable institution."
"They're immoral single mothers."
"You get what you deserve in life."
"They're just jealous of us."
The convention is that you just don't do things like that.
They vote for conservatives who endorse injustice and hand out excuses.
"That's political" i.e. left wing.
"In your opinion."
(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.)