“You’re looking well,” my mother always says – when I’ve put on a bit of weight! Perhaps at some level she sees it as an expression that I’m eating well, surely a sign of health and wellbeing! Meanwhile, how do you feel when you’re feeling alright and someone asks if you are ok, and suggests that you’re not looking well! Sometimes, looks can deceive. Jesus addresses both external appearance and inner well being in his teaching in today’s reading. Fasting is a fine spiritual discipline filled with a multitude of fruits. It strengthens self discipline, offers a sacrificial gesture, a physical act to convey our love and commitment, a proof that we are serious. It can make room in our lives for other things, too, and can benefit the lives of others if, in our giving up, we give to others. All of these fruits can be borne in our lives through fasting. But Jesus warns that such a personal, inner movement of the heart should be reflected on the outside with the same purity of intention. The long faced Pharisees want to convince others of the cost of their fasting so that others may see and say how good they are, how strong, committed and faithful. But our fasting is for God. We give because we have been given to, we love because we are loved, we serve because Jesus has shown us how to serve. May Lent bring you much health and well-being, inside and out.
God our Father, as we begin the season of Lent, may all we do be filled with sincerity of heart, a purity of faith, and a love of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.