The Fridays of the year are traditionally fast days.
What does that mean?
Is Friday a day to eat less – the food fast?
Or a day to live quickly – to move fast?
Or a time to be faithful – to hold fast?
I like the smorgasbord of possibilities here, especially given that Jesus seems to be rather dismissive of the traditional food fast of the Pharisees.
Fasting from food can be a good way to focus the mind and heart on what is essential. However in this discipline we need to ensure that the goal is not the fasting itself but growing maturity in relationship with the divine, holding fast to Jesus who is God-with-us.
This warning is strong in Isaiah’s caution, well known to Jesus:
“Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high. Is that the sort of fast that pleases me.. lying down on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to the Lord?”
The Lord continues through Isaiah giving the words that six centuries later describe the mission of Jesus:
“Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me – it is the Lord who speaks – to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the one you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin?
Even a child can endure hard fasting penances if these are the fashions of the age and the company is good. However adult maturity looks beyond our misguided need for well-intentioned communal disciplines.
Just a few hours before he was elected as pope (Benedict) Cardinal Ratzinger reflected with his brother cardinals on how easily our even well-intentioned goals “consist solely of one’s own ego and desires”.
”We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true human. He is the measure of true humanism. An “adult” faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature, adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.” Cardinal Ratzinger homily. 18 April 2005
Today, let us pray:
Teach me to fast
from all that leads me
to focus on myself,
my own ego
and short-sighted desires.
Quicken my desire
making me fast
to hear your voice
knowing that you are holding me
fast in your embrace.
Take a moment to share a prayer intention, or to let someone else know you are praying for them, or to initiate a cafe or bar gathering:
- Prayer Requests – an opportunity to list your own requests for prayer and to let others know that you are praying for them and their intentions
- Event Calendar – where you can suggest a time and place for a cafe or bar gathering inviting others to join you.