Lent Is Far More THan Giving Up Chocolate

Daily Refection – 2/24/2023


Sacred Scripture

Then the disciples of John approached him and said, “Why do we and the
Pharisees fast [much], but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days
will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
( Matthew 9:14-15)


The beginning of Lent is a time for some honest and deep introspection.
We need to look at ourselves – like staring at ourselves in a mirror and
identifying our flaws and blemishes. It’s not comfortable but God is giving us
the opportunity to remove all of these spiritual flaws and blemishes and to be
purified and born again through our Lenten observance.

The concept of fasting on which the Pharisees prided themselves gives us
a clear link to today. Their rituals had become merely a traditional activity
with no moral benefit. Today, we too can fall into this syndrome, putting
questions of ritual and procedure on a higher pedestal than they deserve, while
leaving the substance of on the back burner. 

We normally link fasting with reducing our intake of food. But we need
to look at fasting in a new way. We need to identify and reduce the things that
damage and oppress other people. The purpose of fasting is for achieving a
certain goal – an improvement in our interior life.

The purpose of our fasting is to unite with Christ those parts of us
that are not yet hungering for what God hungers and through the Prophet Isaiah
God tells us very clearly what he hungers for. God wants us to be hungrier to
care for the poor, needy and oppressed than someone who hadn’t eaten for days
would be for a piece of bread.

Our fasting is to increase our
hunger for what God hungers for, until every cell of our body desires what he
desires. That is what we mean when we talk about the deifying work of God in
our lives.

We have to fulfill our basic duties to God before fasting will do any
good. To fast and yet neglect these more fundamental responsibilities would be
to fast in vain. First of all, we must have faith in our hearts. Then we must
perform works of mercy and practice Christian fairness in our dealings with our
neighbors. And all of these are to be done in an overall spirit of Christian
love. This mode of spiritual thinking and decent living must be present first.
Otherwise, everything else we do of a religious nature will be of little

We can start our fasting by examining one part of out lives that is
almost universal.

If we want God to smile upon us, we must first release the  captives in our lives. What are those? Those
thoughts, words and actions that bring harm to others. The sarcasm. The gossip.
The desire to be viewed by others as “better”. The intentional neglect of
others by refusing to listen. The shutting off of those that don’t think as we
do, including our politics. The self-aggrandizement. Spitefulness. Meanness in
our words and actions.

Let’s give all of those up for Lent and beyond. Then, and only then, we
will be ready to move on to other more advanced levels of spirituality.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may grow in the knowledge
of your great love and truth.  Help me to seek you earnestly in prayer and
fasting that I may turn away from sin and willfulness and conform my life more
fully to your will. May I always find joy in knowing, loving, and serving you.”

Daily Note

Basil the Great wrote: “Take heed that you do not make fasting to
consists only in abstinence from meats. True fasting is to refrain from vice.
Shred to pieces all your unjust contracts. Pardon your neighbors. Forgive them
their trespasses.”

Do you hunger to know God more, to grow in his holiness, and to live the
abundant life of grace he offers you? Are you willing to take the steps
necessary that bring us to eternal union with the bridegroom of new life?

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