A Lent fast that makes a difference


Are you wondering what to fast from this Lent – sweets. alcohol, or just simply eating less?

This kind of fasting has its place.

However, if you want to discover what fasting is especially meant to achieve, fast in a way that will bring about a holy change; change for the better for you, change for a better world.

A fast that will make a difference in helping build a better world, is a Christian witness that helps advance the Kingdom of God.

It is a fast that is evangelisation in action.

Let’s take our inspiration from the  prophet Isaiah:

“Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the throngs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke?

“Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?”

This passage from Isaiah insists that we fast from what Pope Francis continually calls the “culture of indifference.” A culture that doesn’t care that there are fellow human beings among us who in one way, or another, are bound unjustly.

Countless people struggle daily to find sufficient food, clean water, decent shelter, adequate clothing and medical care.

Around the world many people are locked up in prisons for practising their faith in God, or for political, racial, ethnic reasons or for speaking out.

Others are unfairly imprisoned for minor offences.

Still, more, some 50 million people are bound up by human trafficking – modern slavery.

Then there are those who carry the heavy yoke of running from their native countries because of

  • gang violence,
  • war,
  • desperate poverty,
  • inhabitable climate change situations,
  • corrupt regimes and
  • greed, selfishness, and indifference.

These people seek safety and decent work somewhere, anywhere, in order to support themselves and their families, only to find that in coming to New Zealand they might part of an immigration scam run on social media or What’sApp.

Then there are the children, too little to fend for themselves, too weak to survive when times are tough.

They are often the first to die from hunger, poverty, disease, child labour, and that endless scourge: war!

The big fast, the uncomfortable fast

So, if you and I are ready for the big fast, which will often be uncomfortable and even painful at times, then we need to look no further than to the poor and vulnerable, near and far – our needy brothers and sisters.

Many wonderful organisations are dedicated to building peace, serving the poor, and protecting our common earth home. Link up with them and generously give of your time, talent and treasure this Lent – and beyond!

“If you lavish your food on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then your light shall rise in the darkness, and your gloom shall become like midday!” (Isaiah 58: 6-10).

  • Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist.
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