I love food, whether good or mediocre. I like foods full of grease, salt, and sugar. I enjoy foods without an origin story and foods that contain ingredients I can’t pronounce. This morning I tried to explain Velveeta cheese to my French teacher, which resulted in good language practice. But I’m not sure any language (and certainly not French) can adequately describe that oozy chemical goodness. When it comes to food, I’m not accustomed to depriving myself of it—either by necessity or by choice. I’ve never had to do this. I’ve completely missed the spiritual lessons of fasting.
Life in Morocco, perhaps unsurprisingly, has led me to a stronger appreciation of this ancient spiritual discipline. Fasting isn’t optional for Muslims. They fast because they believe they are commanded to do so. But they also fast to develop genuine empathy for the poor who don’t have food to eat. They approach the practice with reverence, respect, and joy. The Christian church in Morocco embraces fasting too, usually more somberly, as a way to devote ourselves to God more fully in response to a call for repentance and confession. By exercising this custom within our community, I’m growing in my spiritual life.
If I identify with anyone in Jesus’ story it’s the unnamed rich man, who dresses well and feasts sumptuously every day. Spoiler alert: he’s not the hero of this tale. Perhaps those of us who find ourselves on his side of the poverty threshold should be more intentional about seeing who’s left laying at our gates, covered in pain and shame, longing for what we take for granted. Perhaps we need to re-learn how to fast.
What riches do you have that you could use to bless others?
God, thank you for providing for our needs. Open our eyes to the injustice at our gates. Amen.