In our first reading today from Isaiah 58, we hear what is truly an acceptable form of fasting. More on that in a moment. In the Gospel reading, the Pharisees ask Jesus why His disciples don’t fast. Jesus replies, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
Fasting is a most ancient practice. Too many people think that fasting is all about not eating. But God does not see an acceptable fast like that at all. Take a look at what God really wants from a fast. “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.”
You see, fasting, like everything in our relationship with God, is not about what we get, but about what we give. Not eating can be a fine thing. It can help us to unite our sufferings with those of Christ. But if it is causing us to sin, to be snippy and nasty to others, is it really pleasing to God? Perhaps God is calling you to a different kind of fast. The kind we read about in Isaiah 58. Pray about it.
Father, show us how you wish for us to fast. May whatever we do or give up be pleasing in your eyes, and help us to draw closer to you. Amen.
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