One of the practices of Lent is fasting. Many Catholics think Lent is about giving up something, like chocolate or something they want to eat. But God reveals to his people the disconnect between their fasting and their hearts. They claim to seek God’s will. Which is why they fasted. And they ask God, why do you not see? Why humble ourselves and you do not notice? In response, God tells them: Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
The purpose of fasting is to discipline us to do what God wants and not serving our own interest. If we fast only to ask God for something and neglect the works of justice, righteousness and divine love, then we are missing the purpose of fasting. When we seek the Lord with our heart and that desire becomes so great that we need to express it, then it is right to fast. This kind of fasting manifests the desire of our heart.
This is why in the Gospel today, the Pharisees ask Jesus why his disciples do not fast, Jesus replied, The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Jesus gives the purpose of fasting. It is expressing the desire of their hearts.
What should be our heart’s desire? It should be God himself. God should be our only desire and when we are not content with our relationship with him, when we want more of God than what we have now, then our souls yearn for him and run after him. It is then that our fasting will have meaning, because when we fast with this intent, we are telling God he is all we want and need.
We fast during Lent because we respond to God’s call to draw nearer to him. We examine ourselves and see what hinders us from coming near to God. Then we fast from it, we give it up. Let us commit ourselves to getting rid of what hinders us from knowing God.
Lord, I come to you, desiring to know you and to love you. Show me what hinders me from loving you. You are all I desire. You are all I want. You are all I need. Let me get rid of what hinders me from loving you.