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Friday after Ash Wednesday

February 8, 2008

Blessed Friday!

We honor two saints today, St. Josephine Bakhita and St. Jerome Emiliani. Look for their stories in a neighboring post.

Readings:
Isaiah 58:1-9 (fasting is supposed to make us holy)
Psalm 51: 3-19 “A broken, humbled heart, O God, You will not scorn”
+Matthew 9:14-15 (there is a time to fast)

Fasting isn’t something we do for its own sake.

Feasting can glorify God too: “Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do–you should do all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). And Jesus Himself said that guests do NOT fast when the bridegroom is with them.

Jesus has already cautioned us that if we fast in order to show off, we already have our reward. And God further warns that fasting can even be obnoxious to Him when it’s accompanied by quarreling and oppression.

So why fast at all if it’s so hazardous to our spiritual health?

“A broken, humbled heart, O God, You will not spurn” (Psalm 51:19)

God’s trying to teach us to fast with our hearts, to give up our death-grip on the things that enslave us. When we fast rightly, we mourn the loss of our Divine Bridegroom, whom we’ve turned away by preferring material comforts over His companionship.

This kind of fasting inspires us to share our bread with the hungry, and leaves us more bread to share. It frees us to get out of ourselves, to discover joys of simplicity and gratitude that have been overshadowed by our abundance and to enter more fully into the Communion of Saints.

May God bless our fasting today!

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