Friday, March 7, 2014


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. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! -Isaiah 58:5-9

It is often asked in Lent, “What are you giving up?” There are the classic choices like chocolate, soda, dessert, smoking, drinking. With technology in excessive use some have decided to give up completely Facebook and Twitter or cut back on the amount of time on the internet and television. There is no doubt that any amount of sacrifice is notable and can be helpful to the spiritual journey. However, the reason behind the sacrifice is of great importance. The season of lent is more than giving up something for a period of time and then over indulging after the season is over. Fasting enables us to take time, which is often bombarded by distractions and the normal activities that prevent us from being focused on the Lord. Fasting enables us to listen more attentively to the message of the Lord, rather than the message of the world. Fasting enables us to be others centered and not merely self-centered.

So we should essentially be asking ourselves this question: What can I fast from that will give me more time to focus on the Lord and others? What do I need to refrain from in my life to better respond to the call from the Lord? The prophet Isaiah captures the type of fasting that God desires. Isaiah focuses on fasting that helps us to refocus our lives on the things that really matter in the eyes of God, reaching out to one another. It is the same example that Jesus gives to us in the Gospel. Jesus came to give life and to give it in abundance (John 10:10). Jesus came to bring healing of mind, body and spirit (Luke 5:23-24). Jesus came to reach out in love (John 13:34). Jesus came to forgive us our sins and to grant us salvation (John 3:16). Thus, we use the season of lent to recall Jesus’ life, passion, and great sacrifice on the cross. In gratitude we then look to live the example of the Lord to one another. We are called to do as Jesus commanded, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).

Don’t let anyone discourage you from what you have given up for lent this year. However, challenge yourself to really reflect on the reason for your fast. Ask yourself, does this fast help me to focus on the message of God and help me to reach out to others. If so, great! Keep going strong and may your Lenten journey bear much fruit. If not, it’s not too late to re-evaluate and make adjustments so that this lent is not the same as usual, but one truly focused on the life of Christ, which calls on us to focus on God and to reach out to others.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you. Now I don't have to give up cookies and coffee. This is harder, more challenging and better for me.