Daily Gospel reflections: What fasting teaches us

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Photo: vetre/Shutterstock

 “My father, if the prophet told you to do something extraordinary, would you not do it? All the more since he told you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13)

For many years, my reaction to fasting was a lot like the indignation of Naaman in this story. The Church asks us to fast as part of our Lenten practice. But I hate to be hungry. Although it is an unremarkable human experience, I consider it a small-scale personal emergency.

Surely God doesn’t want me walking around irritable and short tempered during Lent, I reasoned. Surely there are loftier spiritual pursuits. What I came to see is that the belief I was somehow above such a practice was the very reason I needed it.

I see fasting now as a way to address my rampant self-importance. Fasting teaches us about humility, tolerance, and empathy — lessons that I desperately need to learn. When we fast, we set aside our own comfort in order to more fully direct our attention to God. So what if I feel deprived? Maybe I should just get over it.

 — Karla Manternach


2 Kings 5:1-15AB

Psalm 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4

Luke 4:24-30 

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