We often think of fasting as abstaining from food. Make no mistake about it, this is a good thing – IF we are doing it with the right intentions for the right reasons. But in our first reading today from Isaiah 58, we read about true fasting. More on that in a moment. In the Gospel reading from Matthew 9, Jesus answers the question of why his disciples do not fast.
When it comes to fasting, the stomach means very little. Fasting is all about the heart. If our hearts are not in the right place, then our fasting amounts to nothing. We see this very clearly in Isaiah 58. The people were crying out (whining) to God, “Why do we fast, and you do not see it? afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?” God’s answer is swift and pulls no punches. He rebukes them for their hearts being far from Him. He then goes on to tell them about the kind of fasting that is pleasing to Him. Make sure to read it!
I like fasting. I like the challenge of fasting. I have done some fairly challenging fasts. I have to say that those difficult fasts were some of the most amazing spiritual experiences I have ever had. You see, we think about food constantly. What we will have for lunch or dinner. How much we would like that pastry in the window. Once we get over that, then we can truly begin to hear the voice of God. And then we can really start to concentrate on the kind of fasting that truly pleases him.
Father, help us today to offer up a fast that is pleasing to you. Give us the grace to be faithful to our Lenten practices, that we might turn our hearts toward you through service to our brothers and sisters. Amen.
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