Thursday 12 November 2015

Friday after Ash Wednesday

I find it quite interesting to observe how fasting has become like a commercial opportunity or a show of so called piety for some people. What do I mean, you might say? Take for example, when the time for fasting arrives for certain people, we begin to see lots of advertisements on television or radio, inviting and enticing people to break fast in a restaurant or hotel, with a huge buffet of exquisite dishes to savour. I have also seen some of such people waiting hungrily and longingly for the time to break fast at a food court or restaurant, with the food all ready in place, and when the time comes to break fast, these people attack the food with such ferociousness like lions that have not eaten for days. Is fasting meant to be an excuse for people to eat lavishly when the time to break fast comes? Or is fasting such a torture or hassle that some folks just cannot wait to break fast, instead of giving thanks to God for the privilege and opportunity to fast? Why do such people fast in the first place?

In today's reading, we see that there are some people who fast just to put on a show. The reading tells us: "Why should we fast if you never see it, why do penance if you never notice?’ Look, you do business on your fast-days, you oppress all your workmen; look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast and strike the poor man with your fist. Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high. Is that the sort of fast that pleases me, a truly penitential day for men? Hanging your head like a reed, lying down on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to the Lord?" When we fast just to put on a show, or we are mean or nasty towards others, then are we really fasting in the first place? Is our fasting helping us to grow closer to God, and to love God and neighbour, or are we making a joke or mockery of fasting, through our actions, behaviour and conduct? May we not fall into hypocrisy when we fast, since we ought to be doing so not to boost our ego or for our personal gratification, but to give glory to God.

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