Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Fr. Ivan Olmo
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” At times, we fast for medical reasons. We need blood work done or need to prepare for a routine checkup or undergo a surgical procedure. We also fast for health reasons. We care for dietary concerns that can reduce health risks and improve our overall wellness and well-being. We also fast for spiritual reasons. In ancient times, the People of God would fast to prepare to encounter God on his holy mountain and enter into God’s Holy Presence. They washed their bodies, purified their hearts and cleansed their minds to enter the Glory of God. For three days, they fasted from certain foods, refrained from sin and avoided sinful activity in order to be holy before the Holy of Holies. They purified to behold the purity of God. We, more often than not, attribute fasting to food, similar to the observances and practices of the Lenten Season. But fasting is much more than refraining or abstaining from food since we are much more than body. We are also heart, spirit, mind, and soul. All these can uniquely contribute to or hinder our spiritual health and well-being. For example, to more fully enter into the Glory and Holiness of God, we can cleanse our minds from impure and graven images by refraining from living and playing out fantasies. We can also refrain from judgment and hurtful thoughts or refrain from worrying and learn to trust more in God. To more intimately experience the Mercy of God, we can consecrate our hearts to him by refraining from anger or by getting rid of all malice, avoiding hatred, eliminating envy and simply loving and forgiving more. To wash our bodies clean and remain the Temple of God we were recreated to be, we can fast from inappropriate touching, from obscene gestures, from impure acts, from bad language and from eating fast food and more fully become the Body of Christ we were recreated to be. To sanctify our spirits and enter the Kingdom of the Divine Will, we can fast from pride, from ego, from selfishness, from ambition and simply become more like Jesus – that is, meek and humble of heart. To purify our souls and be with God, we must make a full and faithful return to innocence and to the sacred. We need to fast from all blasphemies, idolatries, all mortal and grave sin and simply desire God who is our surest hope, our true happiness, the only one who satisfies all our needs.