Reflections about lent and fasting

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - February 29, 2020 - 12:00am

Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are dust here on earth but we are God’s children He wants to be reunited with him in his heavenly home.

How can Lent link us closer to God, our Father?

Lent is often viewed as the days of prayers, fasting, and abstinence. Many think fasting means less meals and food intake and abstinence, “as an act or practice of refraining from indulging an appetite or desire”, for food or drinks, as examples.

Have you read these clear words about fasting in Isaiah 58:3-9?

“Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?

Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen; to lose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk.”

Rick Hamlin asked in prayer stories – “what does it mean to step into the wilderness for 40 days, just like Jesus did? What does it mean to step into the wilderness these days and how can I do it in the midst of a million demands on my time?” Hamlin’s suggestions:

1.) Try a cellphone fast. Can you “put the cellphone aside “for several hours a day and avoid checking it for news that is meant to rile you up or distract you? Putting the phone down can help you listen to God’s call rather than the world’s.”

2.) Give up a bad attitude. Giving up being sarcastic, for example. Or think about this-“isn’t it also worthy to think about what you say and why and how it might possibly hurt people?”

3.) Stop worrying for 40 days. “Didn’t Jesus urge us to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air and how their heavenly Father fed them without any of their fretting? If not worrying is hard, this Lent, what about “paying attention to where your mind is going and how you might trust God to reshape your thoughts?”

4.) Take on a good deed for Lent. Try “saying a prayer that you promise to say for 40 days, writing an email or note you’ve promised to write. Take them up. Just one at a time.”

Shall we do our wilderness journey this Lent? If it is a beautiful journey that will allow us to grow and closer to God, Hamlin asks: why stop at 40 days?

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