It is 8th March 2019. We celebrate the memorial of St. John of God, Religious. The readings are from Isaiah 58:1-9; and the Gospel from Matthew 9:14-15. Lenten time is the time to fast and pray. The Church strongly recommends fasting accompanied by prayer and meditating the passion of the Lord in participating in the Way of the Cross. Fasting is the one of the three pillars of the spiritual exercises during the Lent. We all need certain amount of fasting personally that must include the social concerns especially the poor, and the needy. Our fasting must make us come closer to God without being far from people. Fasting needs to strengthen the bonds with God and renew our relationship with the others. God has no time for those who fast for making themselves beautiful and inflicting pain in others by their attitudes, words and behaviour. Our sackcloth, the sacrifices and the ashes do not impress God when we are not willing to cover the nakedness of the other, the hunger of the other, not willing to provide the shelter for the homeless, and remain deaf to the cries of the oppressed, the marginalized, the voiceless and the abused. When our fasting and prayer is all about our own interests and personal spiritual development, God turns God’s countenance and face away from us. The first reading clarifies the purpose of our fasting. If our fasting does not lead us to be charitable and loving, then there is no use of fasting. We need not fast to make ourselves healthy, spiritually empowered, and physically beautiful, rather to make the other go free, to share our bread with the hungry and to clothe a person who is naked. Without profound self-denial, we cannot come closer to God and to have the awareness of the social justice. “Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.” (Is.58:8). Let us not make the fasting as routine, obligatory, impressive, ritual, and legal rather let our fasting be an expression of loving, caring, sharing and participating in the struggles of the other. Let us not reduce the meaning of fasting merely attached to depriving some food but to deserve some attitude towards the society. Fasting is the vivid expression of love for the other more than ourselves. Our fasting needs to be personal, and private that deals with the social evil. The responsorial Psalm intercedes: “A humbled, contrite heart, O God, you will not spurn.” (Ps.50:19). In the Gospel Jesus clarifies the need for fasting in the absence of God in our life and when we have departed far away from God and alienated ourselves from the suffering humanity and living our life so selfishly for ourselves. We all need to fast being the Friday today and reach out those who are in need as the outcome of our fasting. Charity and justice are the fasting we require to please God and make our light shine to the world around. May you have a good day. God bless your fasting and praying during this time of lent.

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