"Proclaim a fast..." —1 Kings 21:9
"When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued. Then the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, 'Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before Me?' " —1 Kings 21:27-29
Fasting has traditionally been an exceptionally powerful way God has chosen to work through us. In our times, the Lord has chosen to work even more powerfully through prayer and fasting. Pope John Paul II has taught: "Prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf Mt 4:1-11)" (The Gospel of Life, 100).
The greatest things are often abused. In this way, Satan tries to trick us into depriving ourselves of some of the most important aspects of God's plan of salvation. Fasting has been abused. Ahab fasted not for God's glory but out of pure selfishness (1 Kgs 21:4). His wife, Jezebel, called for a fast in which she pretended to discern God's will (1 Kgs 21:9) in order to have Naboth executed. After these two abuses of fasting, Ahab fasted sincerely and asked God for mercy. The Lord was pleased with Ahab's sincere fasting and spared him from receiving immediately the consequences of his sins (1 Kgs 21:27-29). "Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!" (Is 58:4)
This year is the long-awaited year of the Great Jubilee. Fasting is a key which opens the Jubilee door to justice, freedom, and salvation. Fast now.
Prayer: Jesus, teach me to fast.
Promise: "Offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other." —Mt 5:39
Praise: During a period of spiritual dryness, St. Romuald was praying Psalm 32 and read the following verse: "I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk; I will counsel you" (Ps 32:8). At that moment, God gave him an intense understanding of His love, which remained with Romuald for the rest of his life.
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, December 16, 1999
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 18, 1999