February 19, 2021 – Friday after Ash Wednesday
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/021921.cfm)
We always understand the religious practice of “fasting” in reducing our food intake. This religious practice which already begun even in the ancient times still takes a central place in today’s Season of Lent. The Church, in fact, asks us to fast as one of our practices in this season.
Our readings today actually talk about fasting. Isaiah in the first reading, criticized the people who devoutly did the religious practice of fasting. He criticized them because those people were only concerned of the traditional practice of fasting while refusing to respond to the call that fasting entails.
According to Isaiah, when fasting remains a religious practice or tradition and does not change our heart, then, it is not true fasting. Fasting will lead us into a change of heart. This is shown in what he said,
From what Isaiah told us, to fast in this Season of Lent is not about making ourselves slimmer or to aim in losing weight. These reasons are not what the Season of Lent is about. The call to fast and consciously choose not to eat our comfort food is a discipline that will bring us into at least four practical and significant reasons.
First, fasting from our comfort food will allow us to learn the value of giving more importance to what we really need and not just on what we want. Our wants could sometimes lead us into unhealthy habits in our diet, thus, to fast will help us confront those unhealthy habits.
Second, when we fast, we will surely feel hungry. To feel the emptiness of our stomach, will help us to value every food being prepared on our table. This should help us to be more grateful of people around us and of the grace from God.
Third, such consciousness in the emptiness of our stomach will also help us to realize the hunger that many people are suffering every day. According to Action Against Hunger, there is more than enough food produced in the world to feed the entire population of our planet, but, despite this over supply, there are 690 million people in the world who sleep without anything in their stomach.
Fourth, by becoming aware of that, fasting then, leads us to respond to those who are in need. In the words of Isaiah, in fasting, we share our food with the hungry, we set those who are unjustly accused to be unburdened, we set those who oppressed to be free, we give shelter to the homeless, we cloth those who are naked. Meaning, fasting indeed entails practical responses that will allow us to become life-giving to others.
Thus, as we have just began this Season of Lent, please be more conscious also of this religious practice of fasting by also becoming more aware on how we could be more life-giving to others. But never forget to bring that consciousness into prayer. Fasting without prayer will not make us life-giving.
So, a practical example would be keeping aside the budget of your food or meal every day and give what you have kept aside to a neighbor or a friend who is in need of material or financial aid. May way all become life-giving in this season of lent. Hinaut pa.