OF GOD – O Lord, You have created me for yourself.
Grant that I may live and die for love of you.
“Lo, on your fast day you carry out
your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers.” (Is 58:3)
“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite
spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” (Ps
There is something mysterious about fasting. All through the
bible fasting was used to change a particular situation. A king
might call a fast to bring the people back around to right praise.
Jesus, the master of fasting, drives out a demon from a boy
that the apostles could not. When they asked Jesus why they
could not, his answer was that this kind of spirit could only come out
through prayer and fasting. Fasting is essential to the
spiritual life precisely because of its ability as a catalyst for
change. Often, especially in our culture, we allow our sensual
pleasure to rule over us, and on our fast days we carry out our own
pursuits. (Is 58:3) Fasting puts us in touch with our finite self.
It heightens within us the awareness that we are finite
creatures, living by pure grace. In fasting from food, for
instance, our sense of our own weakness and vulnerability is
increased, leading to humility, a deeper dependence on God, and to a
deeper sense of community to others who, because of lack of food, may
be fasting, not because of choice, but of circumstance.
Proper fasting, then is a
cultivation of love. Love of God and Love of neighbor.
This is what He is telling us in Isaiah. 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. While Isaiah list is essentially the
corporal works of mercy, we can also look at them as what is hold us
back spiritually. What yokes do you have in your life that
addict you to wealth pleasure, power, and honor? How can you
break those yokes to free you to loving God and each other?
Spend some time today thing
reflecting on the yokes in your own life that tie you to your sin and
dampens your ability to love. Think of ways you might fast from
those things during lent (or longer), substituting instead something
from Isaiah’s list of corporal works of mercy. If you already
are doing this, think of what else you might add to your spiritual disciplines.
If you do this, you will be better
prepared to celebrate the Light of the Risen Lord at Easter, and your
own light shall break forth like the dawn, your wounds healed, and
the glory of the LORD will be your read guard.
O Christ, Your words form a new
canticle; ‘A new commandment I give you.’ And what else does
this commandment contain but love and charity. You wish us to
love others as You, who are Love, love them! You say to us,
‘Love them as I have loved you, not ‘as I love Myself’, for You have
loved us in an act of mercy, meekness and infinite compassion; and
you wish us to love others in the same way (St. Mary Magdalen dei
Pazzi). Take our fasting this lent dear Lord as an offering of
Love to you. Bless it and return it to us so that we may love
others to the best of our ability with mercy, humility, and