Beads of Joy 01-18-10
Rediscover The Joy of Fasting
©2010 James Dacey, Jr. SFO
Yet another spectacular gospel reading for us to reflect on our Lord's magnificent wisdom. Let us rediscover the joy our Lord is teaching us today. Today's gospel is Mark 2:18-22 (The Question About Fasting). Now we can rediscover fasting, maybe in a way we never have before, or maybe even in a way that will thrill our hearts and change our lives. Fasting is indeed a physical experience, but more importantly it is a spiritual exercise. Let us also remember that Jesus went into the desert and fasted for 40 days. In Matthew 4:4 we read, "One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."
One thing we learn about the spiritual purpose of fasting is that fasting helps us become more aware of God's presence. And one thing I have learned not only in scripture but also in spiritual direction with fasting; is that we must keep this great gift that we give to God, between us and God alone. You can see it in Matthew's gospel, "But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will reward you." I really love scripture. When you spend as much time in the bible as I do, you easily understand and believe and see, how God's hand was indeed the hand who assembled and wrote the scripture through His chosen people.
Fasting is a rather unique sacrifice and gift; a gift we can give to God, but also a gift while giving we are able to receive. Fasting is an inner act of sacrifice that deepens our spiritual walk with Jesus. In my own personal experience I find that fasting evolves as time progresses. What I mean by that is, that the more hours or days in a row that you fast; the more energy you have and the closer to God you feel and the clearer you see God. One would think possibly the reverse would happen, we would grow tired and weary without food. On the contrary the energy surge is incredible. But use your head, if your health requires food, please DO NOT FAST, instead consult a priest on what you might do.
Fasting is a very powerful way for us to turn our dependency over to God. Also note that fasting not only heals the soul, but it also has the power to heal the body (cholesterol, blood pressure, sickness, etc). I challenge all of you to somehow incorporate fasting into your life. Maybe once a week, the same day or rotating days. Or even fast from something you really enjoy for the day, maybe coffee or chocolate. Also allow the purpose of your fast to draw yourself back to Jesus. Never give up on your journey as you fast, you will have both good and bad days. Just stick with it, and offer all your suffering up to Jesus as your gift to Him. I hope this was helpful.
Fasting is so radical I agree, but so is our Catholic Faith.
Your brother in Christ Jesus & His Most Blessed Mother,
Jim (The Rosary Man) Dacey Jr SFO