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Friday, March 11, 2011

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Isaiah 58:1-9
Psalm 51:3-6, 18-19
Matthew 9:14-15

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a whole-person fast

"My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, You will not spurn." —Psalm 51:19

On this first Lenten Friday, we fast by limiting our intake of food as well as abstaining from eating meat. We fast so as to share in the sufferings of the body of Christ (Col 1:24). We are to care more about the broken body of Christ than our own hungry bodies. If our growling stomachs only lead us to focus on our own needs, is this the kind of fasting God wants (Is 58:5), to make us more occupied with ourselves than we were before we started fasting? To test our motives, the Lord asks: "Was it really for Me that you fasted?" (Zec 7:5) Or "was it not for yourselves"? (Zec 7:6) The kind of fasting God wants are those fasts offered to Him by people humble and contrite enough (Ps 51:19) to offer their fastings for a breakthrough in His kingdom.

This Lent, let's involve not just our mouths and stomachs in fasting, but the other parts of our body as well. Fast with a contrite and humbled heart. We can add our hearts to our fast by offering God a broken, humbled heart which mourns for prisoners, the hungry, homeless, naked (Is 58:6-7), and others who suffer. Fast with eyes fixed on Jesus and His word (Heb 12:2). Fast with "ears open to obedience" (Ps 40:7). Fast with your whole person: your mind, heart, soul, stomach, eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet (see Lk 10:27). Bring down the kingdom of darkness and build up the body of Christ by your Lenten fasting (Mt 17:21, NAB).

Prayer:  Jesus, You suffered in Your entire body for the good of all. May I arm myself with Your same mentality (1 Pt 4:1).

Promise:  "The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard." —Is 58:8

Praise:  Jo Ann witnessed the power of fasting when she saw a family member freed from bondage.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
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Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July27, 2010

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