THE REWARD FOR FASTING

Meditation for Friday after Ash Wednesday
(Is 58:1-9; Mt 9:14-15)

“Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?” Today we meditate on the issue of FASTING. The prophet Isaiah talked about fasting as a way to ‘cry aloud to the Lord that He might answer quickly. What is it that can make our fasting to be futile? The prophet says it is unrighteous living that forsakes the ordinances of God. “Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your pleasure and oppress all your workers.” Isaiah says that the fasting acceptable to the Lord is, “To lose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke.” The loud cry of fasting that God hears is works of charity and denying oneself for the good of others.

According to prophet Isaiah, the REASON for fasting is for God to quickly hear our cry. But the Lord in turn demands righteousness over and above every external act of fasting. It was such an external display of self-denial for their selfish interests that the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees soaked themselves in it. It was such fasting that sought human approval. In response to them, Jesus taught us a new meaning and reason for fasting. “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.”

Thus, the disciples of Jesus are like attendants to a bridegroom; they celebrate with Him, they rejoice, and are satisfied with Him. The ABSENCE of the Bridegroom is the PRESENCE of their hunger, dissatisfaction, or lack. This is when they will begin to hunger and thirst for the One that quenches their thirst and satisfies their hunger. “And then they will fast.” We have been separated from Jesus for our sins. Fasting becomes away the followers of Jesus express their mourning or deep yearning for Him, the Bread of life that satisfies. By fasting, they direct and stretch every form of hunger in them to Jesus. Fasting, especially during this season of Lent, becomes a way Catholics affirm that they would not settle for any lesser form of satisfaction except Jesus. He is the REASON and the REWARD for our fasting! In His thirst on the Cross is our thirst quenched. Let us brace up and offer in faith our genuine self-denial this Lent, through such acts, our numerous thirsts shall rise to ‘embrace’ the thirst of Jesus for us. “But those, who drink of the water that I shall give, will never be thirsty” (Jn 4:14). Amen.

 

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Lagos.
Friday February 19th, 2021.
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

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