As Holy Week approaches, some of us might begin to take stock of what we’ve been doing this Lent. Prayer: check, charity: check, fasting: check, or maybe not. Most of us probably hear the word fasting and think of giving up or refraining from food or drink. I did too, until I recently read Isaiah 58:6 where it says “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly…setting free the oppressed…and not turning your back on your own.” Sure, I made sure to fast on Ash Wednesday and abstain from meat for all of my Fridays in Lent, but have I really been doing the type of fasting that God calls us to do?
That’s when I realized how fortunate I was to be part of the CLINIC network of organizations that perform authentic fasting each and every day. There are those that work immigrants who are detained help them to fight for their freedom. Then there are refugee resettlement programs that help individuals fleeing oppression.
They help refugees and asylees become part of their new communities by helping with shelter, education, and employment here in the U.S. Not to mention all the legal service caseworkers that assist individuals through a complex and maze-like immigration system each and every day.
Although not all of us can be on the front lines every day, we can each make sure not to turn our back on our own. Teachers are always needed for ESL and citizenship classes, volunteers are always needed to help fill out naturalization application, translators and interpreters are always needed to help others navigate an often confusing system. So, as Lent comes to an end, I challenge each of us to practice authentic fasting that helps to release those bound unjustly, and set free the oppressed.
*Michelle is a Field Support Corrdinator for CLINIC's Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities