Third Sunday of Lent

On Fasting
Filling our soul with the things of this world makes impossible the accommodation for the things of heaven. This is a reality that we seldom notice, nor pay attention to, as we fail to seek the opportunities to be more reflective upon our spiritual well-being. The hustle and bustle of each day often takes us away from being more introspective of the movement of our soul towards transcendent spiritual realities and towards God Himself. Social media does not help us for the most part wherein many in today’s generation believe that the only reality is what is physically visible. We often ignore the discipline and the process that spiritual growth offers because to avail for spiritual nourishment is now the least significant option of many caught up in the material world. We are mesmerized by so much secular propaganda, programming and political agendas, the consequences and outcome of which are seldom examined nor considered under a spiritual light. So, where do we go from here?

The old Jewish tradition of spiritual discipline promotes the practice of fasting. The significant figures of the Old Testament such as the kings and the prophets, as well as the people of Israel in general, were introduced to fasting as a means to be reconciled with God. Perhaps they were also aware that fasting is a way to be reconciled with oneself in an act of self-mastery and habit-forming behavior that introduces one to spiritual freedom.

Our Catholic tradition imposes on us special days of fasting during the forty-day Lenten journey. The Fridays of Lent offer a strong invitation to abstinence from eating animal meat as a form of discipline to remind us of how our salvation was accomplished by God in Jesus Christ who sacrificed his human body by dying on the cross. Fasting is a means to restrain us from satisfying right away the most basic need for our bodily nourishment. The power of the human will in fasting reinforces one’s ability for self-control. The choice to do physical fasting and abstinence is indicative of the person’s willingness to look beyond what is visible and sensible within the context of the here and now, to what is spiritual and eternal.  In addition, because of our inherent weakness, our human body always seeks the pleasure that is associated with our feelings and passions. To satiate our hunger and thirst becomes the most urgent of our desires whenever our body calls for its satisfaction. Denying our hunger and our thirst of their immediate satisfaction serves to strengthen our willpower and makes us resilient to the physical and moral challenges of human existence. It is during this moment of discipline that spiritual strength is generated out of our intention to be interiorly focused on the most lasting value that life can offer—our relationship with God.

Something that fasting and abstinence also brings us is the generation of the virtue of patience and self-control. Patience and self-control are the foundations of a spiritual discipline that ushers one towards the achievement of success in any state of life or occupation. Life success is unachievable if not accompanied by perseverance that is rooted in patience. That is why the physical denial of the most basic human desire to satisfy our hunger and thirst is the initial phase towards an entry to a spiritual journey that can fully unite both our body and soul as one single entity. Saint Thomas Aquinas affirms that our human body is the extension of the soul. The truth is that whatever discipline we impose on our human body makes a subtle impact on the human soul, the seat of our spiritual life that connects us with the divine life through grace. Our decision to practice the discipline of fasting is indicative of our interest to grow spiritually and be closer to God. God has no need of our fasting and abstinence. Yet, we need fasting and abstinence because to deny our body of physical satisfactions is an avenue to fill in our soul with spiritual benefits and blessings.  It is impactful to our soul, then, that our discipline of fasting is felt and enacted upon during our Lenten journey.

Your Pastor,