Have I lost my reward?

Every odd season of Lent I feel led to fast for all the forty (six) days. It means eating a very light breakfast, a cup of tea for lunch and a frugal vegetarian meal for dinner. Perhaps you might ask yourself why am I telling you all this. Have I not read Matthew 5: 16? Haven’t I lost my reward?

I don’t fast for a reward and if I have lost it, so be it. The truth is that for forty six days, all that crosses my mind is food and all that I have chosen to give up in Lent. I am sure I share a very similar experience with many good Catholics as they fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Ironically, the minute you decide to fast, the thoughts of feasting creep in. How powerful is the human mind!

For a long time in my spiritual life, I used to chastise myself for focusing on food while fasting; I don’t any more. I have grown to accept this as part of the discipline of fasting. Yes, there are great spiritual benefits when you fast, great graces of God that you experience, but all of that is still dominated by the thoughts of food!

When Christ chastised satan, He used strong words when He said, “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from God.” By saying that, Christ called us to focus on Him in the season of Lent. The season is not so much about what we don’t do or even about what we do, but about the reason behind the season. The focus is not on the sinner as much as it is about the Saviour.

Having said all that, I want to get back to food because I do believe that what we do not consume in Lent, we should also end up sharing with others, especially those in most need of it. In the parish of St Jude, Malad East, where I am a priest, we decided to share our meal with the hungry. We called these Sunday outreaches, ‘Lenten Lunches’.

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