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.”
The purpose of fasting is to turn our minds, and our hearts, to God. When we feel that pang of hunger or desire, we go deeper into prayer and ask for the strength to deny ourselves that food or activity from which we are fasting. From whatever you're fasting this Lent, stretch yourself. Allow God to build you up and transform you.
Father, may our fasting be acceptable to you this Lent. Give us the grace and strength to deny ourselves and become more like Jesus. Amen.
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