So, why do we fast and abstain from certain foods that we enjoy in the first place? Are we fasting and abstaining for the right reasons? Let us consider a few important points:
- Fasting and abstinence is not something that we do just for God as if He likes to see us suffer. No. Fasting is for our own good. It is to help us discipline ourselves and help us to say “NO” to temptations. If we cannot control the way we eat and what we eat, then we are no better than animals. This is what makes us human, with the ability to choose not to eat even when we are hungry, even when it is our favourite food.
- Fasting and abstinence is not only about ourselves, it is also about caring for others. There is no point in fasting and abstinence if we do not care about the needs of others. The reason why we eat less is so that the same amount of food or the money used to buy such food could be used for the good of others. We share not only what we have in excess or extra, but we must share even what we think may not be sufficient or enough. Then we will discover that it is always enough because God blesses and does wonders with our gift or what we have to offer. Remember how God multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed the multitudes? Do you not think He is more than capable of taking our gift, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, and transform it into something great?
- Fasting and abstinence is not just about giving a donation to others. Giving a donation is very easy, as it does not require much effort and commitment on our part. We must also share the struggles, the pains and joys of others, especially those who are not so fortunate; such as the sick, the elderly, the poor, the marginalised, those suffering from AIDS, those suffering from some life-threatening disease, as well as the migrant workers. So we fast and abstain because we want to share in a small way that same experience of theirs. Most of us will never know real hunger, what it really means to lose everything, what it means to suffer tremendously, or even how it feels like to sleep on the streets. But through fasting and abstinence, we can at least share a little part of that experience. Through fasting and abstinence, we can be united with them in love and in prayer.