“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show people (τοῖς ἀνθρώποις) that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear as fasting to people (τοῖς ἀνθρώποις), but to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt 6: 16-21)
Fasting is good for me, no doubt about it. It is good for me both physically and spiritually. In fact today we fast more readily for physical reasons than for spiritual ones, I think, although both are interconnected and most effectively tackled together.
But in any event, it is bad for my heart to engage in fasting with “people” as my target audience. That is to say, it is disorienting for my heart, because people-pleasing makes me chase the changeable winds of human opinions, tastes, and expectations – including my own.
So let me dispense with “doing it for myself,” as I am often advised, and with doing it for the “body image” considered most fashionable by people today. Let me rather have God as my target audience, as I care for my spiritual and physical “house,” a treasure He entrusted to me. And let me prepare to fast according to my “vocation,” which is comprised of all the various aspects of my life and character, with its strengths and weaknesses, known in their entirety only to God. I ask Him today to build with me this work-in-progress that is me, relying on His wisdom to develop and function properly. Let my heart be in Your hands, O Lord, like a treasure-in-progress in this fasting season. Amen!