Today we have another outline for our reflection from St. Thomas Aquinas. He speaks about fasting from today\’s Gospel – Luke 4:1-13. It is the account of Jesus praying and fasting for 40 days and nights in the desert, then the devil comes to tempt Him, but Jesus vanquishes him.
St. Augustine says that it is the highest religion to imitate what we worship, so when Our Lord fasted, we ought to imitate Him in fasting. St. Thomas says there are 4 reasons that should move us to fasting:
I. God commands it.
A. God commands it in Genesis 2:15-17, when he told Adam not to eat the fruit of a certain tree.
B. God commands it in the Law of Moses: Lev. 16:31, \”It is a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall fast; it is a statute forever.\”
C. God commands it by the Prophets: Joel 2:14, \”Sanctify a fast\”
D. God commands it by the Apostles: 2 Cor 11:27b, St. Paul wrote of his many trials, including, \”I have been hungry and thirsty, often without food.\”
II. The example of Jesus and His teaching that there are 4 things necessary in fasting.
A. We should be cleansed of sin: Matthew 6:17, \”When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face.\”
B. We should conceal our fasting from the praise of others: Matthew 6:16, \”When you fast, do not … show others that you are fasting.\”
C. We should fast with long-suffering and perseverance: St. Augustine wrote in his Rule, \”Subdue your flesh with abstinence from meat and drink, as far as your health will permit.\”
D. We should overcome the temptations of the devil: \”Get behind me, Satan.\”
III. The 4 harms that befall those who do not fast when they should.
A. The evil of iniquity, Ezekiel 16:49, \” This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food…\”
B. The evil of loss, especially, of eternal life, Genesis 3:23, \”The God sent him forth from the garden of Eden…\”
C. The evil of present punishment: Sirach 37:31, \”Many have died of gluttony…\”
IV. A 4-fold profit flows from fasting. St. Gregory the Great says,
A. The mortification of vices.
B. An elevation of the mind towards God.
C. The acquisition of virtue.
D. The reward of eternal blessedness.