Grace to you!
Have you watched one of those weight watchers programs? They remind me of a family friend who is often concerned about her weight. She checks her weight regularly and measures the proportion of food she eats. Very disciplined woman, one might say.
Actually, there are many people like her. Many people want to look like super models. Personally, I too, watch what I eat. But one day I was feeling dizzy and my doctor told me to eat healthy and not starve myself. “Virtue lies in the mean” is a wise advise from the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas.
On this Day 3 of Lent, or should I say “pre-Lent” (since technically in the Church’s old tradition, from Ash-Wednesday to Saturday after Ash-Wednesday is called “pre-Lent”), let’s reflect on the need for fasting as a healthy principle for life. Contrasting it with dieting would, hopefully, drive the point home.
Dieting is pretty much understood by many people as eating healthy so as to keep fit. Fasting, on the other hand, is abstaining from certain, often favorite, food and drink, so as to grow spiritually and be more generous to those in need. Observe some of the fundamental differences between fasting and dieting.
The intention for each is different. Dieting is intended to keep people healthy and fit—a good practice. Fasting is for a spiritual cause and growth, as well as to help those in need. Intention matters.
Ironically, fasting could equally offer good health and fitness, because if we abstain from unhealthy food (always the right thing to do), our bodies fare well for it. In addition to reserving something for charity, for the less privileged, our body wouldn’t acquire excess fat.
On the contrary, generally speaking, dieting is expensive and drains us of reserve to help the poor, except for those who can afford it. Many of the recommendations of dieting are expensive to maintain.
You may be wondering why am I spending much time on this 3rd day of Lent talking about the difference between dieting and fasting. It’s to show that the Christian model of a healthy life-style, both physical and spiritual, encourages fasting. If Lent is a time of conversion, isn’t it appropriate we reassess our eating habits? Isn’t it also important taking seriously the demands for helping those in need?
We may want to ask ourselves this Lent: what kind of fast do I practice?
To help our assessment, we may want to use this Judeo-Christian standard suggested by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah (58:1-9) as guideline: Does my fasting loose the bonds of wickedness, lead to freeing of the oppressed, and breaking the chains of unfreedom in all its forms? Does it help me to share my bread with the hungry, clothe the naked, accompany and provide shelter for the homeless?
I will add: Does it bring me closer to God, lead to growth in the Spirit and encourage strength of character and love for one another?
Pondering these questions may aid our personal reflections for this Day 3 of Lent.
God bless you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday after Ash Wednesday: Is 58:1-9a; Mt 9:14-15]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible 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.