In our opening prayer at Mass today (Monday, January 18th, 2nd Week in Ordinary Time), we pray asking God to bestow his “peace on our times.”
We live in a world with division and hatred. Today we celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. He was a civil rights activist assassinated in 1968. In the 1960’s there was great advancement in civil rights legislation. There has been more since but yet there is still racism (click here for a “Prayer to Overcome Racism”).
We desire peace. We need to end racism to have peace. However, racism is not the only struggle against peace in this world. If one watches the news, then one is well-aware of the present political divisions. We hear of “tolerance” yet we are told not to talk about what we belief (see my previous article, “Tolerance, Hate Speech, and Dialogue”).
What can we do to help build earthly peace? We need to seek the peace of Christ. We ask God to bestow his peace on our times. Embracing God’s peace would lead to earthly peace.
What can we do to open ourselves to God’s peace?
Here I turn to the topic of today’s gospel for daily Mass, fasting. We are called to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This fasting shows that we recognize the sacrifice that Jesus makes when He gives his life for us on the Cross and we make the sacrifice of fasting by eating less food.
What about the rest of the year? When is the time for fasting? We fast when we seek God. Jesus’ disciples do not fast when He is with them because He is the Son of God and they celebrate that He is with them.
We can fast at other times of the year. For instance, it used to be customary that Catholics did not eat meat on Friday throughout the year. Now, that is only required during Lent. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t abstain from meat or fast in another way on Fridays throughout the year.
Fasting can be a sign of penance. It can also be a way of showing that God is more important than what we fast from. This can help promote peace.
How? We live in a consumeristic society. People think they should have everything they want. This can stand in the way of peace when the wants of some keep others from having what they need. Consumerism can overemphasis competition, which can also work against peace.
Fasting calls us to let go of worldly things. It opens us to God’s peace. It helps open ourselves to what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come.”