Day 59- The Fasting Mile

Authentic Fasting that Leads to Blessing*

Fasting is not genuine without reforming one’s way of life.  (NABRE Bible Commentary)

“Fasting gradually disperses and drives away spiritual darkness and the veil of sin that lies on the soul, just as the sun dispels the mist.”– Saint Symeon the New Theologian

Which fast will you choose?

Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:

releasing those bound unjustly,

untying the thongs 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?

What will be the spiritual reward of this type of fast?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

and your wound shall quickly be healed;

Your vindication shall go before you,

and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then what will happen after receiving these spiritual rewards?

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,

you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”

Isaiah 58:6-9(a)

When I was a little girl, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement was the most important day on the Jewish calendar to me. It was a day set aside to go to temple, to spend the day in prayer, and to fast all day until sundown in atonement for sin and to be written in the Book of Life. And although I loved the holiday and grasped its immense importance, I was confused as to why we as Jews only made reparation for our sin one day a year. I found something inherently wrong with that. That somehow one day would erase everything for me, but the rest of the year I could be bound by my own devices. If there is one certain theological basis as to why I accepted Christ into my life and became a Christian, I could point to this one day on the calendar and say, atonement is not just one day, it’s everyday. Christ teaches us that.

Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God

The forty days of Lent is a great comparison to Yom Kippur. Yes it is a longer season of repentance. Yes it provides additional time for introspection. But just like Yom Kippur, it means absolutely nothing unless you practice its meaning all year round.

I am grateful for the extension of time Christ gave us in this penitential season. Forty is symbolic. It is the number of testing and trial.

The rain fell for forty days and nights while Noah was safe on the ark

Christ fasted forty days and nights before beginning His ministry

There were forty days from the resurrection to the ascension of Christ

But after those forty days, after enduring that testing period, there is the emergence of purpose and of new beginnings. There is the flower that has blossomed from the seed of hope.

Christ’s gift to us during Lent is to learn how to fast properly. Our Catholic acts of abstaining from meat on certain days and giving up something for our Lord should have the space filled with prayer and giving. These religious practices are good only if they produce fruit and not religiosity.

Your journey with God these forty days should be secluded, silent and seeking

If the practice of fasting from something does not produce a wanting or desire to change, don’t do it. Choose something else. Fasting is giving up, but it is giving up something to make room for God.

Short term abstinence produces nothing but short term results

Dig deeper. What can you change? And what can you fill that space with instead that will produce a harvest for Christ all year round?

God wants your time. Yes, He wants you too fast from something that will produce something for Him. That something is a desire to act; to be other centered and not self-centered. Look at your schedule. Is it all about you? Who are you serving?

God or yourself?

There is something poignant in the scripture today that I must point out. On a surface level, God has invited us to help the homeless and the poor and we should do that. But I have spoken many times to you about starting your care for God in your own household- with your spouse and your children, young ones and grown. Read the scripture again.

Who are the hungry, the afflicted and the naked? 

The hungry are those around us who are starved for our time and attention. Our husbands and wives that we ignore, our children whom we say to, we don’t have enough time for that. 

Your family is starving for your love and attention

The afflicted and homeless are those people around you, the ones in your everyday life who have no God. They suffer, they roam and they have no place to go. They try and find God in addiction or in a bottle or worldly accolades. They are lost. We bring them into our homes by bringing them into our hearts. By loving them into being who God created them to be.

Your friends are homeless, bring them home

The naked are those who present problems to you, or are crying for help. You are too busy for them so you ignore them or say we will talk about it some other time. The scripture says clothe them when you see them, NOT SOMETIME LATER.

Those around you are naked, meet them in that moment and clothe them with  the white garment of Christ,

Your own flesh is your church body. They need your help. They suffer from perfectionism, They are scared to ask for help for fear of exposure. They want you to help with a ministry event but maybe what they really want is you. They pour themselves out for others but are lost themselves.

Do not turn your back on your church family but give them grace. Help break their chains of religiosity and earning God’s love. 

This is fasting. And look at the rewards! Breakthrough, the healing of wounds, vindication from our God.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,

you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”

2 thoughts on “Day 59- The Fasting Mile

  1. Seymour Council

    Great reminder of the teachings and example of Christ, while connecting it to those amongst us, who we encounter daily. Powerful message and thank you for sharing.

    Seymour

    Liked by 1 person

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