When I was very young, my mother would sometimes take me to the store with her. Sometimes it was the grocery store, which was just plain boring. Every now and then we would go to a store with toys, however. Invariably, I would spot an action figure that would catch my eye-like Iron Man or Luke Skywalker or something. I decided then and there that the action figure was pleasing to the eyes and good for playing, so I would beg my mother for it. And she would typically say no. Thus began a cavalcade of tears, screams, kicking, and utterances which one (if one did not know better) would assume came from at least the 4th circle of the Inferno. Eventually though, something remarkable happened.
And we would leave, and I would come home and play with the toys that I already had. And I would be happy.
I think fasting is a lot like this. Fasting can be immensely painful up front-I will be the first to admit that I would never call it “fun.” But as we go, we gradually find that we didn’t truly need this thing that we are fasting from-the ground of our being is solid, because it doesn’t lie in Facebook, or sweets, or what have you. The ground of our being is God, who is love.
As Passiontide continues and Palm Sunday approaches, it’s good to take some time to recognize that fasting reveals and brings us closer to God not because he wants us not to eat, but because we plop other things in between ourselves and him.