By: Chad Hyatt
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Reflection—v. 17, when you fast…
What is fasting, and how is it a practice of justice? Throughout history, people have fasted in the face of calamity and injustice. Why? Because fasting is essentially an act of protest, taking a case of injustice or tragedy to the highest possible court of appeals: God. Through fasting we are voluntarily taking on ourselves the suffering of our community by denying ourselves both comfort, such as good dress, and that which is essential to a thriving life, such as food. It is a way of saying we choose to stand in solidarity with those who are suffering, calling on the God of justice and mercy to stand with us and to save us. Fasting is a powerful practice of justice. But not if it is co-opted by the powers-that-be so that it becomes no more than a pious ritual by which we show we are culturally acceptable—that we are among the good and the noble, patting ourselves on the back for our righteousness. As Christians, fasting means not only are we entering into the suffering of our sisters and brothers to stand with them in the demand for justice, but that we are also entering into the sufferings of Christ with and for us. The life and death of Christ is the ultimate act of solidarity with those who suffer and are victimized by injustice—the ultimate act of protest against a culture of death and the values of domination. By the resurrection, God demonstrates our cries have been heard and answered with vindicating justice.
Prayer God, in our fasting, we join with all who suffer and with Jesus who died for us.