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Friday after Ash Wednesday

Friday March 7, 2025

Daily Mass Readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday

  • First Reading - Isaiah 58:1-9a: The Lord critiques superficial fasting and calls for actions reflecting genuine righteousness—freeing the oppressed and aiding the needy. This true fasting promises divine response, protection, and healing, revealing God's desire for justice and compassion.
  • Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 51: God favors a heart that is truly repentant over any ritual sacrifice. Acknowledging my sins before Him, I seek His mercy for cleansing and forgiveness, knowing He welcomes sincere contrition.
  • Gospel - Matthew 9:14-15: Jesus responded to inquiries about fasting by likening his presence to that of a bridegroom with his guests, suggesting that mourning through fasting was not suitable while he was with them. However, he acknowledged a future time of his absence when fasting would then be appropriate for his disciples.

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Matthew 9:15

Themes for the Readings the Friday after Ash Wednesday

The readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday offer rich themes for reflection and action, especially as we enter the season of Lent, a period dedicated to spiritual renewal and penitence. Here are the primary themes drawn from the readings:

  • True Fasting and Righteousness: Isaiah challenges the notion of fasting as merely abstaining from food or engaging in superficial rituals. The true fasting that God desires involves acts of justice and compassion—freeing the oppressed, feeding the hungry, and caring for the needy. This theme encourages us to examine our Lenten practices, emphasizing that true spiritual discipline must translate into concrete actions that uplift others and reflect God's love.
  • The Presence of Christ: In the Gospel, Jesus introduces the idea that fasting and mourning are not appropriate in the joyous presence of the bridegroom, representing Himself. This highlights the theme of recognizing and celebrating the presence of Christ among us. It invites reflection on how we experience and respond to Christ's presence in our daily lives and in the Eucharist, especially during Lent.
  • Preparation for Absence: Jesus also foreshadows a time when He will no longer be physically present with His disciples, indicating a time when fasting will again be appropriate. This theme explores the anticipation of Jesus' Passion, death, and resurrection, and the role of fasting as a preparation for and participation in these mysteries. It calls believers to ready themselves for the trials and absences they will face, finding strength and solace in spiritual practices.
  • Divine Response and Healing: Both readings promise a divine response to genuine faith and righteousness. Isaiah speaks of healing, light, and protection as rewards for true fasting, while the Gospel implies that fasting, in its proper time, deepens our relationship with God. This theme encourages trust in God's fidelity and responsiveness to our spiritual efforts and needs.
  • Community and Social Justice: Implicit in Isaiah's call for true fasting is the theme of community responsibility and social justice. It challenges the faithful to look beyond individual piety to the societal implications of their faith, emphasizing that a relationship with God is reflected in one's actions towards others, especially the marginalized and oppressed.
  • Joy and Mourning in Christian Life: The contrasting emotions of joy in Christ's presence and mourning in His absence reflect the Christian journey through Lent towards Easter. It embodies the cycle of death and resurrection inherent in Christian spirituality, inviting believers to embrace both mourning for sin and joy in salvation.

These themes for the Friday after Ash Wednesday interweave the personal and communal aspects of faith, urging a Lenten observance that is both deeply spiritual and actively engaged in the world's needs, reflecting the full depth of Christian discipleship.

Thoughts for the Friday after Ash Wednesday

As we journey into the heart of Lent, the readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday guide us into a deeper understanding of what it truly means to fast and to follow Christ. These passages from Isaiah and Matthew invite us to reflect on the nature of our spiritual practices and the presence of Jesus in our lives.

Isaiah 58:1-9a confronts us with a powerful question: What does God truly desire from our Lenten fast? The prophet Isaiah speaks to us across centuries, challenging the superficiality of fasting that does not transform our hearts or actions. This reading is a clarion call to re-examine our approach to Lent, urging us to look beyond mere abstention from food or luxury.

The true fast that pleases God is one that breaks the chains of injustice, shares our bread with the hungry, shelters the homeless, and clothes the naked. Here, Isaiah is not merely advocating for acts of charity but for a radical reorientation of our lives towards justice and compassion. This Lent, we are called to let our fasting be the catalyst for a deeper conversion—one that brings light, healing, and liberation not just to ourselves but to those around us.

In the Gospel according to Matthew (9:14-15), Jesus addresses fasting from a different angle. When questioned about why His disciples do not fast, Jesus offers a response that is both profound and enigmatic. He likens Himself to a bridegroom, whose presence is a cause for celebration, not mourning. The time for fasting will come, He suggests, but it is not now.

This response invites us to reflect on how we experience the presence of Christ in our lives. Lent is a time of preparation, yes, but it is also a time to celebrate the immeasurable gift of God’s love made manifest in Jesus. Even as we prepare for the solemn remembrance of His Passion and death, we are reminded of the joy that His presence brings to our lives.

Jesus’ words also hint at the ebb and flow of Christian life—times of joyous feasting in the Lord's presence and times of solemn fasting in His perceived absence. This rhythm is a vital part of our spiritual journey, reminding us that our faith is lived in the tension between the now and the not yet, between Easter joy and Good Friday sorrow.

The challenge presented to us on this Friday after Ash Wednesday is profound. We are called to a fasting that is deeply connected to justice and compassion, a fasting that transforms us and the world around us. We are invited to balance our moments of joy in Christ's presence with the solemn preparation for His Passion. This Lent, let us embrace a fast that truly reflects the heart of God—a fast that brings light, liberation, and healing to all corners of our world.


Loving God, guide us this Lent to fast with hearts turned towards justice and compassion. May our actions reflect Your love, as we joyfully await Jesus' resurrection. Grant us the grace to see Your face in all those we serve. Amen.

Homilies and Reflections
for the Friday after Ash Wednesday

Word on Fire: Why Do We Fast?

Bishop Robert Barron reflects on the Gospel for the Friday after Ash Wednesday, emphasizing fasting as a means to awaken our deepest hunger for God. He explains that fasting disciplines our superficial desires, allowing us to recognize and pursue our profound hunger for the divine. Drawing on Thomas Merton's analogy, Barron suggests that our basic desires, if unchecked, can overshadow our spiritual needs. Fasting serves to quiet these immediate desires, directing our yearning and attention towards God, revealing our true longing for divine communion.

USCCB Reflection: About Fasting

The USCCB reflection for the Friday after Ash Wednesday discusses the evolution of fasting practices in the Catholic Church from rigorous historical observance to the more moderated approach post-Second Vatican Council, highlighting only two mandated fast days: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It emphasizes that while the physical benefits of fasting, such as weight loss, are notable, the primary aim of fasting is spiritual. Fasting serves as a reminder of our reliance on God, prompts reflection on the source of our sustenance, and encourages actions toward social justice and personal conversion. Through fasting, we are called to focus on God, allowing His grace to move us towards compassion, repentance, and a deeper connection with others.

Frequently Asked Questions
for the Friday after Ash Wednesday

What date is the Friday after Ash Wednesday?

The next date is Friday March 7, 2025.

What are the Mass readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday?

The Mass readings for Friday March 7, 2025 are:
First Reading  - Isaiah 58:1-9a: True Fasting and Its Rewards
Responsorial PsalmPsalm 51: The Value of True Repentance
Gospel Matthew 9:14-15: The Question of Fasting

What is the significance of the readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday in the Catholic Church?

The readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday emphasize the true meaning of fasting and the call to live out our faith through acts of justice, mercy, and compassion. They challenge believers to reflect on their spiritual practices and to ensure their fasting leads to tangible acts of love towards others.

How does the first reading for the Friday after Ash Wednesday define true fasting?

The first reading from Isaiah 58:1-9a defines true fasting not just as abstaining from food, but as engaging in actions that reflect genuine righteousness, such as freeing the oppressed, feeding the hungry, and sheltering the homeless. It highlights God's desire for fasting that transforms and heals society.

What does Jesus say about fasting in the Gospel reading for the Friday after Ash Wednesday?

In the Gospel of Matthew 9:14-15, Jesus explains that while He is present, it is not the time for His disciples to fast, likening His presence to that of a bridegroom at a wedding. However, He acknowledges a future time for fasting, indicating the importance of discerning the right times for different spiritual practices.

How can we apply the message of the readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday to our lives today?

We can apply the message by examining our Lenten practices to ensure they lead to greater love and service to others, especially the marginalized. It invites us to consider how our fasting can be an expression of our commitment to justice and compassion in our communities.

Why is the Friday after Ash Wednesday important for Lenten reflection and action?

This day sets the tone for the Lenten season, highlighting the importance of introspection, transformation, and actively living out our faith. The readings call us to a deeper understanding and practice of fasting, encouraging us to align our spiritual disciplines with God's desires for justice and mercy.

What promise does God make in the first reading for the Friday after Ash Wednesday for those who fast rightly?

God promises a swift answer to their prayers, healing, guidance, and protection. The imagery of light breaking forth like the dawn and the restoration of ruins symbolizes the renewal and blessings that come from living a life aligned with God's will.

How does the theme of the Friday after Ash Wednesday readings differ from the themes of other days in Lent?

While Lenten themes generally focus on repentance, sacrifice, and preparation for Easter, the Friday after Ash Wednesday specifically emphasizes the social dimension of fasting and the joy of Christ's presence, offering a unique perspective on how our spiritual practices should impact the world around us.

Can the readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday inform our approach to social issues?

Yes, the readings encourage believers to address social issues by emphasizing actions such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and standing up for the oppressed as integral expressions of our faith and fasting, urging us to consider how our Lenten practices can contribute to social justice.

What does the contrast between fasting and joy in the Gospel reading for the Friday after Ash Wednesday teach us?

It teaches us about the balance in Christian life between times of joy in the presence of Christ and times of penance and preparation. This balance helps us appreciate the full spectrum of our spiritual journey, emphasizing the importance of discerning the appropriate times for different expressions of faith.

How can parishes and communities embody the spirit of the readings for the Friday after Ash Wednesday?

Parishes and communities can embody this spirit by organizing activities that address local needs, such as food drives, shelter programs, and advocacy for justice. By engaging in these actions collectively, they live out the call to true fasting and make a tangible difference in their communities.

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