We have another four weeks to enter into Holy week. Have you really started practicing the right way of keeping the Lenten observances, the three traditional practices: prayer, alms-giving, and fasting, (Mt 6: 1-18). When you are serious with these traditional practices and encourage yourselves to say “Yes” to the love of God by serving one another with generous heart, then the conversion can become reality in your lives in this season of Lent.
What is our understanding of fasting and how can we practice fasting? Very often, we think of fasting as a simple diet, with merely a simple desire to lose a few extra kilos or just abstinence from meat. Some other ways of fasting are fasting of the eyes from harmful TV programmes, fasting from laziness at work, fasting from being overly critical and judgmental in our hearts. Still there is another form of fasting: fasting of the tongue, fasting in speech, fasting from offending others with our words.
This week I would like to focus on fasting in relation to controlling our tongue. One of the most powerful weapons is our tongue, which has a power for good or for evil. We use our tongues to gossip, criticize and tell lies. It is an instrument of poisonous speech and sarcasm that destroys peace and positive relationships. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with the same tongue we curse our fellow human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth also comes praise and cursing,” (James 3: 9-10). We ought to make every effort to tame our tongue. We too need to put our hearts in tune with God’s Spirit by daily reading the Word of God. If your tongue abstains from every evil word, then your heart will abstain from sin.
We have heard phrases like, “think before you speak” and “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It is good for us not to be quick or say things we don’t really mean. It’s important that we think about what we are about to say before we open our mouths.
When we cannot control our tongue, we are unable to control ourselves in every other way. It will be better to avoid spreading gossip and to bridle one’s tongue. So think wisely before you say things and pray before you come to conclusions.
The Church has set up for us these forty days of Lent as a time of conversion. In this Holy Season of Lent, let us fast from all words that could offend others with our speech. Let us learn to praise God, with Mary, with our words and with our lives:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,”