The tradition of fasting has long been practiced by the people of God. Moses and Elijah went on forty-day fasts as a way to open themselves up to God. In doing so, they were taking up a position of humility and abandonment before God. Our Lord himself went into the desert to fast for forty days so that he could be close to the Father and be empowered to begin his public ministry. These and many other examples of the saints should inspire us in our own goal of fasting during Lent.
In the first reading we hear from the prophet Isaiah. The Church includes this passage at the beginning of Lent to give us a heads-up warning. How easy it can be for fasting to become simply a formality or a ritual that’s reduced to following a set of rules. God wants our fasting to become life-giving and to lead us to practice charity and almsgiving, or to take up other acts of mercy and kindness. Each Lent we are encouraged to take up specific programs of prayer, of spiritual reading, fasting, and acts of charity. Lent is the time when we learn to surrender our lives and our wills to God, depending on him to work miracles of transformation in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
And we shouldn’t only fast from foods we like, but fast from negative thinking, fast from anxiety, or fast from gossip and a sharp tongue. The possibilities are endless. So, let’s give Our Lord a little bit of our pleasures and our time this Lent and let us watch the blessings flow, for he will never disappoint us.