FASTING + FORGIVENESS = ?
“My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” –Matthew 18:35
After Jesus fasted forty days, He came out of the desert “in the power of the Spirit” (Lk 4:14). After our Lenten fast, we too are to be moving in the power of the Spirit, in a new Pentecost.
However, the flesh (our fallen nature with its selfish desires) will oppose the Spirit (Gal 5:17). Unforgiveness is the cause of many works of the flesh, such as “hostilities, bickering, jealousy, outbursts of rage, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envy” (Gal 5:20-21). Therefore, unforgiveness is one of the main ways we stifle (see 1 Thes 5:19) and grieve (Eph 4:30) the Spirit. Consequently, if Lent is going to lead to Pentecost, we must accept God’s grace to forgive 70 x 7 times (Mt 18:22). We must forgive from our hearts; otherwise, our Lenten fast will not result in freedom (see Is 58:6) but in torture (Mt 18:34). Fasting without forgiveness is not crucifying the flesh (see Gal 5:24) but merely indulging the flesh in a more subtle way.
When you fast, forgive. When you forgive, pray for the Spirit. You will receive a new Pentecost.
PRAYER: Father, by Your grace I decide to forgive everyone for everything. Thank You for the miracle of forgiveness.
PROMISE: “Let our sacrifice be in Your presence today as we follow You unreservedly; for those who trust in You cannot be put to shame. And now we follow You with our whole heart, we fear You and we pray to You.” –Dn 3:40-41
PRAISE: Francis’ community has made a commitment to each other and to God to fast weekly.