Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lenten Fasting - from what comes out of our mouth!

Dear Friends,
At the very outset of this holy season of Lent I thought to share with you about 'Lenten Fasting' that might help us all to benefit from this wonderful and holy season.
Lenten Fasting

On Ash Wednesday, the Christian faithful across the world lift up their faces to be signed with ashes.  This sign is meant to remind us both of our mortality and of the promise of new life through repentance. The ashes signal entry into the holy season of Lent, a time of fasting, an opportunity to deprive the body and consequently make room for the spirit.

While fasting from food can be good practice as an act of discipline – and nothing can be achieved without discipline – I challenge each Jesus Youth to consider another view as we journey this Lenten season.  It is as important to control what goes into our mouth as it is to control what comes out of our mouth (Mt 15:11).  During this lent we would consider fasting from what comes out of our mouth.
There are four areas we might consider in this kind of fasting.  The first is fasting from foul language.   The air around us is full of it: in movies, in TV shows, in commercials, in song lyrics, in novels and magazine articles, and in everyday conversation.  Almost everyone uses it regardless of their age, education, status, etc.   Often such foul language from children, youth and adults is meant to signal sophistication and freedom in this modern world.  Using foul, dirty language or telling a smutty joke may make you feel like a big shot.  But remember what comes out of your mouth tells what is inside your heart.   To my mind, all it signals is poverty of vocabulary and small mind and heart.  Certainly, foul language has no place in the life of a disciple of Jesus.

The second Lenten practice is to fast from judgments spilling out from our mouth.  If not every day, make a sincere effort at least on every Friday of the season, in honour of Jesus’ crucifixion.  And so for each Friday of Lent, make no judgments about people: about their motives, their goodness or badness, their social standing, their defects, their clothes, their colour, their jobs, their mistakes, …  Just see everyone as God’s children, people for whom Christ died, fellow pilgrims.

Thirdly, fast from verbal negatives that so readily come from our mouths: the put-downs, the jabs that hurt, the insults, the criticism, the condemnations, the sarcasm, the harmful gossip, the rumour that smears, …  Again, if it is too much to practice every day of Lent, make it just one day of the week.  Preferably Wednesday, as tradition holds that this was the day Judas let the words which betrayed Jesus fall from his mouth.

The fourth Lenten practice is to let the word “no” fall more often from your mouth.  After all, our “nos” define our every bit as much as our “yesses”.   Let Jesus be our model.  When Pilate questioned Jesus, he shook his head no and refused to answer, for he knew Pilate wasn’t really after the truth.  He said no to the pain-dulling hyssop offered to him on the cross.  He would go all the way for us.  Jesus said no to turn stones into bread for he did not come to serve himself.  On the other hand, when it came to giving bread to other, to the five thousand, he said yes.

So, let us be like Jesus during this journey of Lent.  Say no to lies, cheating, over-consumption, drugs, premarital sex, pornography, …   But say yes to truth, words that heal and encourage, to charitable deeds and sharing, to prayer time, to families need for your presence and time, … Say yes to all the six JY pillars.  Say yes to Jesus.

May God bless us with a grace filled holy season of Lent.

Fr. Bitaju Puthenpurackal, O.SS.T.
Pastor, JYIT

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