PS 51:3-4, 5-6 AB, 18-19
Peace Be With You!
Today, in the first reading from Isaiah, we hear Jesus speaking of fasting. His followers say how they are giving up things and depriving themselves of their desires but that God does not seem to recognize what they are doing. However, the Lord speaks of how the intention of their fasting is skewed and that true fasting is not uplifting the sacrifice one is making as good but rather fasting is about giving up those Earthly desires and re-focusing our desires on doing actions that help us encounter Christ through others. It is about the sacrifice of giving ourselves joyfully to others.
Fasting is a crucial component to Lent. It allows us to fast from those things in our lives that keep us from getting to know Him and be with Him. Reading this first reading from Isaiah, however, helped me to take a look at fasting in a different way. Rather than focusing on the giving up of food, our fast can be to fast from ignoring the needs of those around us and instead spent reaching out and encountering Christ through those in dire need around us. We can work towards directing our desires to desiring the opportunity to live out the Works of Mercy of which Christ made some references to in the first reading. Sometimes during Lent, I tend to focus too much on the “thing/food” I am giving up but then forget to spend the time I would have with that “something” to be with God or encounter Him in others. These words from the Responsorial Psalm, however, reassure me that I can always try again and that a penitent heart is always welcomed back: “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn”. Lent is a time when we can repent for those times when we have spent energy on desires that draw us away from Him. We can be sorry for the lack of care and concern we have placed on those marginalized and instead rejoice in the message of love Christ proclaims by praying for strength to fast from these earthly desires and instead to abundantly give of ourselves to others. We can also keep the message of today’s Gospel in mind that although the bridegroom has left us here on Earth, He is coming again in glory soon through the Resurrection. Our Lenten fasts then become hopeful and determined to prepare our hearts for the Lord and grow closer to Him.
As you continue throughout the rest of this Lenten journey, I encourage you to reflect upon ways that Christ may be calling you to fast in a different way. Spend some time praying with the Works of Mercy and allow God to open your heart to one way you can focus on your fast not just on giving something up but on how giving this “something” up is allowing you to spend more time getting to know Christ through others and the needs of this world. God Bless!
Anne Staten is a Sophomore studying Elementary Education with a Minor in Theology.