Lent: A Time to Fast and Feast

“John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. Mt 9:14-15

Because Jesus is in their midst eating and healing, Jesus’ disciples do not fast. Later, when Jesus dies, his disciples will mourn and have no desire to eat. What a change, though, when he is resurrected! Then they will have no further cause for mournful fasting.

Easter is the yearly celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. However, we must remind ourselves that he is risen and that, as Church, we are the Body of Christ present in the world and that we celebrate that presence in the Eucharist, as we break bread in his name.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, which is the church. I became its servant by the commission God gave me to fully proclaim to you the word of God, the mystery that was hidden for ages and generations but is now revealed to His saints.…To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.…” Colossians 1: 24-27

Paul reminds us: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor 12:27

Fasting and Feasting during Lent

Jesus is risen and present in our midst which means that we should be feasting on the fruits of the Spirit which are the result of what the Spirit has already been planting in our open minds and hearts. “If you love me, keep my commands and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth… But the Advocate, the- Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Jn 14: 15-17; 26

Therefore, we must feast on what the Spirit gives us:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. 

Likewise, we must feast on the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

We must take time to Fast from our daily routines and Feast on the significance and meaning, for us, of the following three events that occurred before the resurrection.

Temptation of Jesus in the desert.

Matthew 4:1-11

Mark 1:12-13

Luke 4:1-13

The usual temptations that we may consider during the season of Lent might be associated with sex, drugs, alcohol, food, and the social temptations to steal, lie, gossip, and deceive.

But the really dangerous temptations are desiring FORTUNE (the ability to turn anything into money [‘bread’]), FAME  (everyone looks up to me), and POWER (controlling and manipulating people for what I desire) 

Like Jesus, we must take time and consider what we value and what is important to us as his disciples.

Jesus Entering Jerusalem- Passion or Palm Sunday

Jesus enters riding on a colt or donkey instead of a horse, a sign of a royal messiah or king.

Mk 11:1-10.

Lk 19:28-40 

Matthew 21:1-11 

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday is about one’s integrity and character no matter what the price or reaction by others.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jn 8:31-32

The people thought of Jesus as the “messiah”, the anointed of God, the savior of the Jews, who would lead them to overthrow their captors, the Romans. But Jesus saw himself as the Son of God, one who would do God’s Will on earth by demonstrating that the Kingdom of God was not like the kingdoms of the world.

Am I able to profess the values of God’s Kingdom by the way I live my life? Am I true to myself as a child of God and a disciple of Jesus?  Are the things of this world more important than my spiritual life? 

The Crucifixion

Mark 15 (Verses 15-47) Matthew 27 (Verses 26-66)

Luke 23 (Verses 24-56)    John 19 (Verses 16-42)

What is your cross? What are you willing to die for? Do you speak up to protect someone or some value like justice, truth, and peace?

Here’s some food for thought.

“Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Mt 16: 24-26

The man with a cross no longer controls his destiny; he lost control when he picked up his cross. That cross immediately became to him an all-absorbing interest, an overwhelming interference. No matter what he may desire to do, there is but one thing he can do; that is, move on toward the place of crucifixion. Aiden Wilson Tozer

Lord, help us to see in your crucifixion and resurrection an example of how to endure and seemingly to die in the agony and conflict of daily life, so that we may live more fully and creatively. You accepted patiently and humbly the rebuffs of human life, as well as the torture of the cross. Help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunity to grow as people and become more like you-make us realize that it is only by frequent deaths of ourselves, and our self-centered desires that we can come to live more fully, only by dying with you that we can rise with you. Saint Teresa of Calcutta

And to the man who wanted to inherit eternal life, “Jesus, looked at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10: 21-22

The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst. Lk 17;20-21

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in  its branches.” Mt 13:31-32

Values of the Kingdom

The Kingdom of God, that Jesus came to help build, has a different set of values than the world in which we live. It is those values that should be the focus for us this Lent. Such values include compassion, justice, forgiveness, mercy, love, honesty, humility, peace, and inclusion.

This is a time of reflection and a time to re-evaluate the values by which we live.

We must change our ways and values if we are to begin a new life- a life in the resurrected Christ. We can’t expect to live that new life in Christ while holding onto our old way of life. Take one step at a time. A journey of a thousand steps begins with the first step.

Suggestions for your Lenten journey.

Read the daily readings provided by the Catholic Church at: Daily Bible Readings, Audio and Video Every Morning | USCCB

Practice “Lectio Divina” Contemplative Prayer: The Five Steps of Lectio Divina each day.

Encouragement for the journey.

“He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. Although we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!… 2 cor 5: 16-:17

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work”  2 Cor 9:8

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.“ At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us! “But he replied,  ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Mt 25:1-13

About Dr. Ernie Sherretta, D. Min.

Retired Director of Religious Education for the Catholic Church since 2014, granted a B.A. in Philosophy from St. Charles Seminary, an M.A. in Religious Studies from St. Charles Seminary, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Immaculata University, and a Doctor of Ministry from the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Spiritual Well-Being Counselor
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