Giving up things – from Facebook to coffee – is a classic part of participating in Lent. This year, great suggestions from Pope Francis are on social media:
- Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
- Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
- Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
- Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
- Fast from worries and trust in God.
- Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
- Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
- Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
- Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
- Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
- Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
Even with these wonderful ideas, God calls for fasting that helps people:
Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: Say to all the people in the land and to the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and the seventh month these 70 years, was it really for me that you fasted? … Thus says the Lord of hosts: Judge with true justice, and show kindness and compassion toward each other. Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the resident alien or the poor; do not plot evil against one another in your hearts.Zechariah 7:4-5, 9-10
Similar requests for fasting are in Isaiah:
“Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?Isaiah 58: 5b-7
I think the Lord is serious. Lent is a good time for us to contemplate what we can do to make that happen.