“If there is no element of asceticism in our lives, if we give free rein to the desires of the flesh (taking care of course to keep within the limits of what seems permissible to the world), we shall find it hard to train for the service of Christ. When the flesh is satisfied it is hard to pray with cheerfulness or to devote oneself to a life of service which calls for much self-renunciation.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer: (1906 – 1945: German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was execution by hanging in April 1945 by the Nazis)
Scripture Text: (IS 58:1-9A)
Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
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!
By fasting, a Christian is saying that God is important in life, not food, drink nor bodily pleasures. Yet if we continue to mistreat our fellowmen, our fasting will be for naught. One must first have good relations with others, be just in all his dealings, and be compassionate to the poor, if he wants his fasting and prayers to be acceptable to God. Those who fast but continue to mistreat others are hypocrites.
Some people fast in order to combat the devil. When a practicing Catholic is beset by many trials and temptations, fasting is a good weapon to combat the enemy, to tell the devil to his face that he is ready to fight him.
How about you? Why do you fast?