Why Fast? First Sunday of Lent

March 6, 2022

He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. —Luke 4:2

The story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert echoes the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the desert. God led them out of slavery in Egypt, and they were on their way to the Promised Land, but the journey ended up being much longer and harder than they had bargained for. They were famished a lot those years, except they weren’t famished by choice. Sometimes they were literally in danger of starving or dying of dehydration until God fed them with manna and gave them water from a rock.

It appears that Jesus, on the other hand, fasted in the desert by choice, so this story has become the foundation of our practice of Lenten fasting. What do you think was his reason for fasting? To remind himself how dependent he was on God? To be in solidarity with those who are hungry but not by choice? Whatever reason you imagine Jesus fasted, can you try it out to be more like him, even if you know you can’t achieve the level of sacrifice he did? Don’t waste time beating yourself up if you come up short (as many of us may). Just get back in the saddle and start again, as often as you need to this Lent.

For Action: This week, or perhaps even for the rest of Lent, spend as much on the poor as you would typically spend on pleasure for yourself: such as coffee or alcohol, entertainment, dining out, getting your nails done, having a massage, etc.

To Pray: Lord, you know what it was like to be famished and tempted. Help me keep my trials in perspective, knowing that others are suffering more than me.