‘And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know that you are fasting – only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.’ (verses 16-18)
Read Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Most Australians have heard of the World Vision 40-Hour Famine. Participants skip eating for forty hours, and get people to sponsor them, to raise money to provide food to starving people. If you’ve done it, you’ll know forty hours is a long time to go without food. When I do it, within forty seconds I’m craving chocolate, lasagne, Coco-Pops … anything!!! I get grumpy, ‘put on a sad face’ so everyone knows I’m ‘suffering’. They can suffer a bit too! (Plus, I secretly enjoy the pats on the back, and the ‘I don’t know how you do it’s!)
Jesus asks for something different. Yes, he wants you to help the poor in whatever way you can. Yes, he wants you to make sacrifices reaching out to others. But he wants it without you making a big deal of things. If it’s just for glory, you’re missing the point. Jesus wants you to act out of love – love for him, and love for people. Real love is humble – you think about the one you love, and not yourself. Selfishness doesn’t get in the way. It’s the same love Jesus offers you. Accept that love, and live that love in your life, and skipping food for forty hours will be something you’ll do with a laugh and a smile.
Father, there are so many people who suffer hunger, while others of us have so much. Help me to live my love for you by humbly serving others. Amen
“Direction for each day” (LCA, Openbook Publishers, 2006)
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