As we begin the season of Lent, the Church reminds us of three key works especially during Lent: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. (Mt 6: 7 -18)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had said about fasting, “When you fast do not put on a miserable face as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so people can see they are fasting. I tell you this: they have been paid in full already..
“When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearances or for people, but for your Father who sees beyond appearances. And your Father who sees what is kept secret will reward you.” Mt 6: 16- 18)
In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we are reminded that the fast which is really pleasing to God is bringing justice to all and dong good for others.
In the Gospel reading the disciples of John ask Jesus why Jesus’ disciples did not fast, different from the usual practice of the Jewish people.
A Facebook meme says, “Fasting without prayer is dieting.” This meme reflects the reality that fasting is much more than denying oneself of food. When one fasts, he does so in order to be in closer union with God.
As we enter the season of Lent, let us ask ourselves about the meaning and relevance of fasting in our lives. In current Church law in the Philippines we have only two days of mandatory fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Why do we even bother speaking of “fasting”?
We can ask ourselves what pleasures and practices we indulge in distract us from true relationship with God. What can we give up or do to make ourselves and our lives closer to God? Let us consider what practices we can do during Lent which would be “fast that pleases the Lord.” (Is 58: 6)