My nephew Joseph once asked me, "When I get older, am I still supposed to fast?" I said, "Yes." Then he looked at me quizzically and said, "What is it?"
This is surely a question many people Joe's age ponder. Is fasting in or out? We still fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. However, it isn't simply counting how many sandwiches we eat that day, or how many cups of coffee are too much.
Fasting reminds us that our empty spaces are to be filled with the "bridegroom who is coming," Jesus the Lord.
During our Lenten Journey, we do fast. We fast so that something within us changes. During Lent we restrain our own opinions and listen more to what others think and say. We let go of our long held hurts and instead show more forgiveness. We curb our impatience and practice understanding and listening. We relinquish our fears of the future and rely more on the hope of God's eternal presence.
Fasting is here to stay, but it is done to help us grow and change from within. Francis de Sales agrees that change is first and foremost interior. After a slow and dramatic change, does the exterior show new life? Francis writes:
"For myself... I cannot approve the methods of those who try to reform a person by beginning with external things. On the contrary, it seems to me that we should begin on the inside."
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 5:15-16
You are the Light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket. They set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house.