Commentary on the Gospel of
Fasting is central to the Lenten period. Isiah puts some preconditions for people to fast so that it may become a meaningful practice. Fasting which has nothing do with the life one lives, is of no merit. Fasting is always understood as a ritual of cleansing, of preparation and of mortification. In doing so, it regenerates the spiritual strength of a person as one resists the bodily cravings. In fasting the focus should be spirit, and not fasting itself.
Isaiah’s message is that true fasting primarily should enable us to get rid of sinful ways and attitudes and open the way for charity and compassion towards others. Growing closer to God and one another should be the motive behind fasting. Jesus clarified this aspect of fasting as he challenged his adversaries who fasted often.
Those who are in the circle of God and all those who are in tune with God’s ways do not need fasting. They enjoy the freedom of doing what God wants of them and are committed to it. But those who feel the loss of self and loss of God need fasting. Spiritual fasting clearly involves a conversion, turning away from sin and turning towards God, and at the same it becomes a means of deepening our faith and commitment to Him.