If we follow the example of Jesus, fasting can make us a more charitable and loving person.
Initially, fasting can appear to be a negative practice, concerned about denying ourselves certain pleasures, such as food or entertainment. However, if we fast like Jesus, it will open our heart to our neighbor and lead to a more loving heart.
When Jesus fasted in the wilderness, he did so with us in mind. It was not a selfish desire, but one of charity. This gives us the key to fasting in Jesus’ example.
We should look forward to fasting as an opportunity to open our heart to God and our neighbor, fasting with a distinct purpose in mind. In other words, we will be successful in our fasting if we do so for someone else, with the intention that the fruits and graces will be showered on them. In this way, fasting becomes an act of love.
Additionally, fasting should also lead us to consider others and seek ways to help the poor and most vulnerable.
Nineteenth-century writer H M. Wylde reflects on this aspect of fasting in his book, Simple meditations for young persons.
Isaiah shows us that the outward form of fasting is of no value, unless it lead us first to repentance, then to works of charity.
We are to loose the bands of wickedness, and then to deal our bread to the hungry, the bread that costs us something to give up. We are to bring the poor to our house, to give our time to them, to put aside our pride and draw the poor near to us, and this because they are Christ’s poor.
Fasting should lead us to unselfishness. It should make us forget our own wishes in trying to spend our time and our money for others. Fasting should make us long to do more for Christ, and unless we fast with the desire of becoming more like him, it will be of no avail. Christ gave up all that he cared for, and spent forty days and nights fasting, that he might show us how to deny ourselves.
Resolution: I will try to do something this day for some poor or sick person. If I cannot do any outward act for them, I will offer an especial prayer for some one in this parish who is in need or sorrow.
Whenever we fast, we should keep this in mind. Fasting is best done for someone else, not to gain graces in a selfish way, but to empty ourselves out for our neighbor in imitation of Christ.