Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.
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 you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.
Since Ash Wednesday is coming next week (March 1, 2006), I thought I am going to share some verses in regards of fasting. The calling for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving can be found throughout the Scriptures (Tob 12:8, Mt 6:1-18). While I do not undermine the calling to fast for the body, there is I feel, something more important and harder to do, which is the interior fasting. I think to eat only bread and water the whole day is easier than to be nice to my least-liked friend. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I should not do bodily fast at all during Lent, it is, I believe, the first step of fasting. I feel that exterior fasting is a way to sacrifice your desire to eat and in exchange allow yourself to be filled with the Lord. Combined with interior fasting, it is a wonderful gift to the Lord.
Other thing that I am wary about is penances that are too vigorous, like all day no-eating fast. Virtue comes in the middle. I think if the Lord calls for all day fast, He will provide with the strength necessary, if He doesn’t, then basically you’re doing it with your own strength, and most likely are going to fail. Probably the key is not doing big things, but small things with great love.
Well, I am still discerning what the Lord wants me to fast on this Lent, but below is a list of actions of interior fasting, which I think I can do for Lent, and by the grace of God, for the rest of my life.
We can fast from judging others and feast on Jesus dwelling in them.
We can fast from words that hurt or maybe pollute
and feast on words that heal and purify.
We can fast from discontent and feast on gratitude.
We can fast from anger and feast on patience.
We can fast from worry and feast on God’s providence.
We can fast from complaining and feast on appreciation.
We can fast from negativity and feast on affirmation.
We can fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness.
We can fast from self-concern and feast on compassion for others.
We can fast from discouragement (which is one of the main tools of Satan) and feast on hope.
We can fast from suspicion and feast on truth.