“Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?” (Isaiah 58:5)
Today’s bible readings are about fasting. The first reading is taken from Isaiah 58:1-8. The content of the first reading is about how God correct the way people fasting. The Gospel, seems a bit contradicted with the first reading, but it’s actually not. There is more than just an ordinary answer given when disciples of John’s the Baptist asked Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” (Mat 9:14).
Few days ago was the Ash Wednesday and it was the first day of the Catholic fasting. I tried to start fasting since then, but when I heard today’s reading, suddenly I felt that my fasting is almost as the same as what unpleased God in the first reading.
Yes, I ate the full portion just once a day, I didn’t take snack until evening. However, I know that my mind is still full of unnecessary judgement of others. I started complaining about someone who didn’t do his responsibilities. I told others that he shouldn’t do that, he should do like this, bla bla bla….
Then today during the celebration of Via Crucis before the Mass, somehow it comes to my mind that inspite of complaining, I should help him. Yes, help him. Just like what God says at the first reading. Fasting is not only about holding our desire to eat. Fasting is more like a way to remind us that our desire shouldn’t take control of us. My fasting is useless if I still think low of others. It is easier to stop feeding the stomach than stop feeding the mind with unnecessary thought. Fasting is about doing goodness even when we are struggling with our cross everyday.
Jesus answered John’s disciples by saying, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Mat 9:15)
It’s not that Jesus forbid His disciples to fast, nor that He thought that fasting isn’t important. I think what Jesus want to tell is that fasting isn’t to torture our body. Fasting is not something we do so that people will acknowledge us as religious people. There is time to fast, and it should be done consciously.
What will you do if you are a best man of your friend’s wedding and then the groom is being “taken away” from you? I think the most answer will not be: fasting. But if we look back at the first reading, then we will have a different definition of fasting. Fasting is more about controlling ourselves. Then, it make sense that Jesus said His disciples will fast after the groom is being taken away from them.
What should we control? Our saying, our mind, and our action. This is what the real fasting. If we do the real fasting–correctly–then we won’t be deceived by our mind, as if we’re good people just because we did fasting where anyone else didn’t.
Once again, fasting is not about afflict our soul. Fasting should be done consciously and the most important is: with love. We cannot control our mind, words, and action just by ourselves.We need Love; we need God to enable us.
My dear friends, please be aware that God let us to fast and God love when we fast. Just remember that God pleased of the real fast. Watch our mind, our words, and our action. Limiting our eat portion may help to accustom us, but it’s more crucial to keep us close to God every day.
May God equipped us with awareness to do our fast correctly. May we understand that we have no rights to judge anyone just because we’ve done more religious obligation than them. God bless you and happy Chinese New Year for those who celebrate 😁😊.