Tag Archives: fasting

What am I going to do for Lent?

table

Lent begins  Ash Wednesday. What am I going to do for Lent? The supper table is a good place to ask that question, because Lent is about renewing ourselves as we are here and now. The supper table is a sign of life here and now.

Those closest to us there. Doing something for Lent must mean doing something for them, first of all, the people across the table–or maybe those who have left our table because we have driven them away. A scripture reading early on in Lent says: “Don’t turn your back on your own.”  Have we turned our backs on those closest to us because we know them too well or we have hurt them in any way?

Besides the supper table, I guess we should also ask that question “What am I going to do for Lent?” in the place where I work, or where I go to school. Don’t turn your back on them either.

Lent is for renewing ourselves as we are, in real life and real time. We don’t have to leave this world or go to Mars to do that

The Ash Wednesday scriptures say: pray, fast and give alms. What am I going to do for Lent? How about praying each day? How about fasting from my own hard opinions of others? How about looking after someone else instead of myself, someone in need?

How about keeping this terrible situation in the Ukraine in mind? Not just looking at TV Broadcasts or online reports. How about praying for peace there? Looks like  economic sanctions are doing some good. Prayer does more good, if we believe what Jesus says.

Let’s not forget something else, though.  “What’s God going to do for us during Lent?” That’s important. Lent is a time of God’s grace, which is more than we can hope for, beyond what we deserve. The great sign of God’s limitless love is the Passion of his Son, a wondrous love beyond all others.

The Bridegroom and His Guests

“The Bridegroom and His Guests”
Luke 5:33-39 in a couplet
Friday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

The Greek phrase translated as “wedding guests” is literally “sons of the bridechamber.”

And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

Luke 5:33-39

Cosmic Cure

Christ feeding the multitude (Coptic icon)

Friday After Ash Wednesday

Isaiah 58:1-9a; Matthew 9:14-15

The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:6

The original harmony in the garden of Eden disintegrated following the movement of disordered desires. Bewitching the senses and the mind, the seductive fruit of the forbidden tree ensnared the first couple.

Paradisal indivisibility suffered a triple collapse as self, God, and others externalized as estranged entities. 

Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are prescribed as medicine for wayfarers to remedy the triple disharmony. Fasting disciplines the whole person with regard to appetite. Prayer finds God in the hidden recesses of the heart. Almsgiving restores fraternal charity and communion.

The prophet Isaiah warns his people not to turn fasting into an end in itself or use it for display. 

Is this the manner of fasting I would choose,
a day to afflict oneself?
To bow one’s head like a reed,
and lie upon sackcloth and ashes?
Is this what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isaiah 58:5

Authentic fasting is hidden and bears fruit in charity to our neighbors.

Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking off every yoke?

Isaiah 58:6

Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are as inseparable as person, God, and neighbor. We need all three for healing: 

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed.

Isaiah 58:8a

Love of God and neighbor wells like a fountain from the center of the Spirit-filled person. 

And you shall be like a watered garden,
like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:11b

At the eschatological wedding feast, no one will fast because “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

The Bridegroom celebrated the brief span of life allotted to him on earth to be with his Bride in the flesh, giving us a glimpse of the divine mirth and affection:

Then the disciples of John approached him and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Matthew 9:14-15

Cracks in the cosmos caused
By crunching of the fruit
Requires a triple cure
To cleanse the heart’s core root.

Fasting heals the person;
Prayer finds God within.
Almsgiving loves neighbors,
Quashing the power of sin.

Person, God and neighbor—
Cosmos in Trinity—
Cured by consuming Christ,
Crunching divinity.

-GMC

What am I going to do for Lent?

Someone was asking that question at our supper table the other night. Lent begins  Ash Wednesday. The supper table is a good place to ask the question, because Lent is about renewing ourselves as we are and where we live. The supper table stands for life here and now.

The supper table is the place where we face those closest to us. Doing something for Lent has to mean doing something for them, first of all, the people across the table–or maybe those who have left our table. One of our scripture readings early on in Lent says: “Don’t turn your back on your own.”   Renewing our relationship with those closest  to us is one of the most important steps to renewing ourselves.

Besides the supper table, I guess we should also ask that question “What am I going to do for Lent?” in the place where I work, or where I go to school. Don’t turn your back on them either.

Lent is for renewing ourselves as we are, in real life and real time. It isn’t about changing us into different people or changing the world we live in or leaving for Mars.

The scriptures read on Ash Wednesday tell us to pray, to fast and give alms. What am I going to do for Lent? How about praying everyday? How about fasting from my own hard opinions of others? How about thinking about others and not just myself?

What am I going to do for Lent? I hope I can get closer to God, and that means for me to get closer to Jesus Christ. He says in this Sunday’s gospel that it’s possible to think we know him, but don’t know him. Where should I begin? Let me look in the scriptures, especially the scriptures we read during Lent.

Pope Benedict’s “Jesus of Nazareth” part 2 where he looks long and hard at the story of the Passion of Jesus is due out this week. I’m going to read it. Maybe that will help.

One thing we shouldn’t forget when we ask that question “What am I going to do for Lent?” is  another question: “What is God going to do for us during Lent?” It’s a time of God’s grace, more than we can hope for, beyond what we could possibly earn. The great sign of God’s limitless giving is the Passion of his Son, a wondrous gift.

 

How fast today?

“The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,

“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,

but your disciples do not fast?”

Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn

as long as the bridegroom is with them?

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,

and then they will fast.”

For a brief moment in time, Jesus Christ, the Word of God, appeared in the flesh. Then, he rose from the dead and his appearances in the flesh ended.

Now his disciples have to fast, according to today’s lenten reading from Matthew 9, 14-15. What kind of fasting should they do? Certainly a little fasting from food, drink, entertainment would help, for sure.

But how about turning  from that “expressive individualism” that Charles Taylor calls the trademark of our western world. A more subtle kind of fasting.

There’s a commercial on television calling us to go to the Florida Keys, where  you’re free to express yourself and do what you like, where freedom reaches its highest expression. Sounds like that “far off country” that beckoned the Prodigal Son.

Does our fasting means fasting from  too much attention to ourselves, which leads us to turn our backs on our own? Do we need to pay more attention to helping the poor, where Christ can always be found?

Prayer, Fasting and Mercy

The sermon on prayer, fasting and mercy in today’s reading by St. Peter Chrysologus, the 5th century bishop of Ravenna, is a reminder not to forget what this season is about.

Prayer, fasting and mercy are joined together; they are one, the saint says. “They give life to each other…Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives…Don’t separate them; they can’t be separated. If you have only one and not all of them together you have nothing.”

Prayer knocks at the door of an ever-present God, whom we so easily forget. We must keep the God who made us and saves us before our eyes and let God inform how we live and act.

Fasting reminds us our common human condition. We are all poor.  Fasting is an effort we make to experience the human condition, especially as it’s reflected in the poor of this world. It counters our tendency to independence and isolation.

Too often today, I feel, fasting becomes a self-help project.  Maybe we can lose a few pounds and be a healthier person, and so in the end it all comes down to us.

That’s why mercy follows prayer and fasting.  It’s the gift of life and love that we give to others.
Without mercy–a better way to describe almsgiving, I think– prayer and fasting are ineffective.

“Give to the poor and you give to yourself. “