Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Is it Ash Wednesday again? Not quite, but today’s passage from Matthew’s gospel is the same as on that inaugural day of the Lenten season.

Let us pray with a few lines:

When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting…
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.

Unlike those who carefully observe the Islamic traditions and who are asked to fast during daylight hours (no food, no water) for the month of Ramadan, we Catholics – – with some exceptions – – are asked during our holy season of Lent to have two smaller meals that, if combined, would not quite equal our main meal of the day, and all of this during daylight hours. Oh, and no snacking either. And this occurs on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as we know, and perhaps on other days, too, according to the piety of the individual Catholic. And, still on the books is the fasting one hour before the reception of Holy Communion.

Declared saints and those striving toward sanctity throughout the centuries have lauded fasting as a means toward the goal of greater union with God. They deny themselves some good thing – – in this case, food, sustenance, a special treat – – in order to physically feel their emptiness that only God can provide for.

Perhaps I might consider today: Have I ever considered fasting, or abstaining from something I like (think of that neutral or good thing you may have “given up” for Lent), in order to experience myself “empty” before the God who fills me with all good things, namely, His grace, His love, His mercy, His forgiveness? Maybe there is some suffering person in my life with whom I might choose to feel more closely and lovingly by means of a temporary period of private fasting.

Our fasting or abstaining need not be dramatic, where we swear off food for the day, or where we renounce that glass of wine that helps us relax with our spouse or friends. But, perhaps a little “Lent” in our “Ordinary Time” will serve to remind us of the constant “Easter” we can experience every day, particularly we receive the Eucharist.

June 19th, 2013