_“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?(Isaiah 58:6)_

_*Fasting is one of the three pillars of the lenten season as we saw in the gospel reading on Ash Wednesday. Fasting, almsgiving and prayer are what we are expected to focus on greatly in this season so as to grow spiritually.*_

_To fast simply means to abstain from food or other things. It is a form of self denial or discipline of the body that is usually performed to aid our spiritual growth._

_*Fasting in the religious sense is a spiritual exercise that is employed to discipline and mortify the flesh so that our spirit will soar higher and strive towards holiness of life.*_

_Jesus fasted in the desert for forty days and the benefits of His fasting and prayer was immense. He was able to overcome the temptation of the devil because He was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 4:1-4)_

_*We learn from the first reading of today the kind of fast that is acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. If our fasting does not meet this standard, then it is simply a waste of time.*_

_Our days of fast should be a day to do good and not evil. It is not a time to quarrel and fight and bear grudges. It is not a time to act wickedly and opppress people. It should simply be a time to show more love to the needy and ease the sufferings of those around us._

_*If our fasting will count, then we must not act selfishly, we must use the opportunity to touch lives positively. You must not make it a show to impress others or blow your trumpet, but strive to set the captives free, forgive those who have offended you, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give water to the thirsty and give shelter to the homeless poor. It is all about doing good and avoiding evil on that day.*_

_Fasting is not just about food and drinks, we can also fast and abstain from evil acts, bad habits and anything that hinders us from living a good life pleasing to the Lord. Sick people, pregnant women, children and those over sixty years of age are exempt from fasting. However, we must take it seriously when we do and make the best use of the moment to mortify our flesh and prepare for the great banquet when we shall feast._

_*The reward of a good fast is that our light will break forth like the dawn, our healing will come speedily, our righteousness will manifest, the glory of the Lord shall be our rear guard and we shall call upon the Lord and He will hear our cry and answer us. A good fast will give us the spiritual power and strength to be able to conquer the devil and overcome all temptations he brings.*_

_Good morning dearest one. Smile😊as you do your work and do have a blessed day. May your fast be acceptable before God. Amen. *And may the Almighty God bless you: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.*_

*Meditation:* Isaiah 58:1-9/Psalm 51:3-6,18-19/Matthew 9:14-15

*Watch-Word:* A broken and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn

*We find mercy from the Lord and the power to overcome our sinful habits when we observe a good fast.*

(Friday after ash Wednesday. Year A)

*© Rev. Fr. Augustine Eleke*