In fasting we voluntarily accept a state of hunger which millions of our brothers and sisters are forced to accept every day of their often all too brief lives. Fasting is thus a privileged entry into the experience of a vast portion of the human family with whom we seldom associate. In sharing their experience we come to an understanding of their plight unavailable to those who simply think about the sufferings of the poor. We might even say that this experiential knowledge makes all other knowledge seem like blindness about their world.
The season of Lent is a time of coming to fresh clarity about the responsibilities which we accept at baptism. The man born blind and given vision by Jesus almost immediately found himself in trouble as a result of his new sight and its source. Those who willingly accept the hungers of the poor will undoubtedly be led to address the needs of their brothers and sisters. Thus the connection between fasting and alms.
Fasting, however, is not just a way to raise social consciousness. It is a trigger which brings us to new thankfulness for the gifts God has given us and which Christ asks us to share that we might embody our communion with all God’s children.
What does it feel like to be truly hungry and thirsty?
Copyright © 2001 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1800 North Hermitage Avenue, Chicago IL 60622‑1101; 1‑800‑933‑1800; www.ltp.org. Text by Andrew Ciferni, opraem. Art by Susie Novak. All rights reserved. Used with permission.