The Fast that Pleases God
Are you wondering what to fast from this Lent – sweets? alcohol, or just simply eating less? This kind of fasting has its place, but if you truly want to discover what fasting is especially meant to achieve, that is, to fast in a way that will bring about a holy change for the better for you and others, a fast that will make a difference in helping build a better world, a fast that will help advance the Kingdom of God, then here are the directions from the Almighty as spoken through his prophet Isaiah:
“Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the throngs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke?
“Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?” – Isaiah 58:6-7
This passage from Isaiah insists that we fast from what Pope Francis continually calls the “culture of indifference.” A culture that doesn’t care that there are fellow human beings among us who in one way, or another, are bound unjustly.
Countless people struggle every day to find sufficient food, clean water, decent shelter, adequate clothing and medical care.
So many people are locked up in prisons for practising their faith in God, or for political, racial, or ethnic reasons. Others are unfairly imprisoned for minor offences or for protesting injustices.
Others are bound up by human trafficking – modern slavery.
Still others are carrying the heavy yoke of running from their native countries because of gang violence, wars, desperate poverty and inhabitable climate change situations – often caused by corrupt regimes, and the greed, selfishness, and indifference of wealthier nations and corporations – seeking safety and decent work somewhere, anywhere, in order to support themselves and their families, only to find steel walls and barbed wire screaming at them: “You are unwanted! Go back to where you came from! We don’t care about you!”
Then there are the children. Too little to fend for themselves. Too weak to survive when times are tough. They are often the first to die from hunger, poverty, disease, child labour, and that endless scourge: war!
And let us not forget the invisible little unborn ones who are unwanted, brutally dismembered, and murdered by abortion – 73 million every year!
So, if you and I are ready for the big fast, the fast that will often be uncomfortable, and even painful at times – the fast that most pleases God –then we need look no further than to the poor and vulnerable, near and far – our needy brothers and sisters.
There are many wonderful Catholic organisations dedicated to building peace, serving the poor, ending abortion, and protecting our common earth home. Link up with them and generously give of your time, talent and treasure this Lent – and beyond!
“If you lavish your food on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then your light shall rise in the darkness, and your gloom shall become like midday!” (Isaiah 58: 6-10).