Friday, February 15, 2013

Gregory the Great: The Fast That Pleases God

Adam, the author of our death, broke the commandments by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree of life (Gn 3,6). Let us who have fallen away from the joys of paradise through food, rise up to them again, as much as we can, through fasting.

But no one should believe that this fast alone can suffice. The Lord says through the prophet: “Do you not know the manner of fast I wish? Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them and not turning your back on your own” (Is 58, 5-7). Fast, then, by lifting up acts of almsgiving before his eyes, by doing what you do with love of your neighbor, by being holy. What you take from yourself give to someone else so that your needy neighbor's body may be restored by the affliction of your own.

The Lord says through the prophet: “When you fasted and mourned. Was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, was it not for yourselves that you ate and for yourselves that you drank?” (Zac 7,5-6). He eats and drinks for himself who nourishes his body with the Creator's common gifts, without regard for the needy; and he fasts for himself if he does not bestow upon the poor what he takes for a time from his own use, but keeps it instead to fill his own stomach later. Hence it is said by the prophet: “Sanctify a fast” (Jl 1,14)... Cease to be angry, put aside quarrels. You weaken your body in vain if you don't restrain your heart from all its pleasures. The Lord says by the prophet: See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits; you oppress the poor and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting” (Is 58, 3-4)... God forgives us what we have done unjustly-if for love of him we alleviate what is justly owed us.

H/T Daily Gospel.

Commentary of the day

Saint Gregory the Great (c.540-604), Pope, Doctor of the Church

Homilies on the Gospel, no.16 Migne (trans. ©Cistercian Publications Inc.,1990)