Grace to you!
There is a model of healthy eating habits that has physical and spiritual benefits. It's tested and trusted. It has been in existence for thousands of years. It's part of the life of the great spiritual masters in our faith tradition from the birth of the Church to today. You can't go wrong with it. It's called fasting.
Let me clarify. Fasting isn't about the wearing of long face. Neither is it about depriving oneself of essential nutrition. It isn't about going days without showering. Nor is it about living only on vegetables because they said it is the only healthy food. None of these is what I mean by fasting.
There are many models of fasting. Here, I am particularly talking about the Christian model. This model has a spirit, a framework as well as a practice. The framework is in self-control. It is also called temperance. Hence, it can relate to other things, such as actions and behaviors, not merely food. For instance, one could fast from legitimate pleasures. One could fast from going to the game in order to offer it for a higher cause.
Also, it is in knowing what your body and spirit need so you will have a balanced, healthy life both physically and spiritually. In other words, it lies in what Thomas Aquinas, a great Catholic theologian, and philosopher who lived in the 14th century, wrote. "Standing in the mean of two extremes." It's moderation.
The spirit of this moderation is good stewardship for all the gifts we have received. It's to know that we have to use food and drink with a sense of responsibility. It's in remembering that there are people who have no food, no water, and no wine. It's about being thoughtful of people who can benefit from our resources and our fast.
Our fast becomes a beneficial sacrifice for many if we offer its fruits for charity. By its fruits here, I mean what we saved from our fasting such as extra cash, conserved water, or extra bottle of wine. These could benefit some people or organizations who could use them to feed the poor and provide shelter to many others.
We fast in identification with the cross of Christ. It's sacrificial-prayer. We also fast for our spiritual and bodily wellbeing. More importantly, because we are grateful to God for what we have. Our fast is an act of gratitude to God. Hence, we extend what we have to those who don't have. Christian fast prevents waste of food.
One may well propose Christian fast as a healthy eating habit. The reason is that the fast is built on the principle that our body is precious. Our entire being is in the image and likeness of God. Hence, we nourish it. We cut down on excesses. We eat what this body needs to function more effectively. We offer some of the fruits of our self-control to others who don't have as much. By so doing, we glorify God in and through it. Also, the Christian model of fasting is one of the best ways to stop obesity, to nip it in the bud. It tackles overweight too.
I would encourage us to try fasting. Eat what you should, the proportion you should, the time you should. Also, offer to God through food for those who have no food. A meal or two from time to time will be perfect. If you can, offering more meals wouldn't be a bad idea. It's spiritually and physically healthy to do so. Grace will be added to you too. It's this kind of fasting that has Christ's approval in Mk 2:18-22.
I pray for the grace of self-control. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday, Week 2 in Ordinary Time: 1 Sm 15:16-23; Mk 2:18-22]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.