Lent calendar prayer and reflection for 28 February
Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me... to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor?
Today’s reading from Isaiah describes the type of fasting that we should practise.
We are not to wear a mournful face, denying ourselves in order to feel virtuous. Rather, our fasting is active and change-making, part of our joyful commitment as Catholics. It compels us to reach out in love to our sisters and brothers, especially those who are poor, excluded or oppressed by injustice.
Breaking the yoke
José Batista Afonso, an expert land rights lawyer within our global network in Brazil, faces a daily challenge to “break the yoke of oppression” and “shelter the homeless poor”.
He and his team assist landless communities to gain formal land title - official documents that are essential if they are to stay on their lands and continue to farm.
Often communities are violently evicted, threatened, or even killed for defending their right to land and protecting the environment. Batista too has received death threats over the years yet remains deeply committed to his work.
“We need to confront the fact that if we cannot stop these human rights and environmental violations in the Amazon, we must at least keep up the struggle to reduce these crimes. This way, we can create a different reality from the reality we have today,” says Batista.
Protecting people and planet
In defending the people of the Amazon, Batista and his team are also defending the rainforest. They are on the front line of caring for our common home.
As he tells us: “Traditional populations, including indigenous people and landless farmers, have lived here for centuries and live with the forest without causing damage to it. It is essential to defend the territories of these populations.”
God of all, let my fast be pleasing to you. Inspire me to share what I have with others so no one goes hungry or homeless. Amen.
Meditate with our Stations of the Cross reflection, in slide-show format for use on your own or with your parish on Fridays during Lent.