Fr. Andy pointed out something in his homily that I’ve never noticed before about today’s Gospel. “Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her.” There were others besides Jesus that played a big role in the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law. Without these others, Jesus would not have healed her. It’s not because He doesn’t love her or didn’t know about her fever or because she didn’t deserve to be healed, but Jesus was waiting to be invited in. In the case of Simon’s mother-in-law, others needed to be the ones to do the inviting.
I know we “know” that we need to pray on behalf of others, but is that something we’re truly in the habit of doing? Do we come before the throne of God at all times interceding for those we love? for those who have asked for our prayers? I’m sure many of you are better at this than me, but it’s something that I’ve been very intentionally striving to get better at. One of the best ways to do so is, you guessed it, fasting!
Fasting is a crucial part of the Christian life, and something that we probably don’t do enough. Jesus denied Himself for our sake, to save us. Fasting allows us to learn to deny ourselves and participate in Jesus’s sacrifice. You can practice fasting as intercession in so many ways! You can fast regularly by setting up a specific rhythm (like only eating one meal on Fridays, not eating meat three days a week, or only eating sweets on Sundays). You can fast sporadically by denying yourself something in the moment. You might grab your phone to peruse Facebook and instead decide to put it down and say a short prayer for someone. You might decide not to salt your breakfast even though you’d prefer it that way. (as a side note, a holy priest one time told me a phrase he heard, “The day you didn’t deny yourself something at a meal, that day you have eaten like a pagan.” Yikes!)
By denying ourselves some of our big and small desires, we conform ourselves more to Jesus. We bring Jesus more into the world and thus give Him more power to work!
Another thing that’s important to note in today’s Gospel is that “at daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.” Prayer is a vital part of His life. He knows He can do nothing without the supernatural power of His Father. Prayer and fasting go hand in hand for us. Notice that Luke adds the detail that Jesus left at daybreak. He had to make the space for prayer. He didn’t depend on it just happening without a concerted effort and planning on His part. He likely woke up before everyone else to do so. I recently resigned myself to the reality that unless I have to be somewhere in 20 minutes, I probably won’t get out of bed before 7 am. If only I had more discipline!
So today I challenge you once again, evaluate prayer and fasting in your life? What might it look like? How will it allow you to draw closer to Jesus? How will it bring His power into the world?
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization