Baxter is not one to fast. Although he is on a diet now, that is certainly not of his choosing, and its purpose is quite different from any religious practice. You see,Baxter is a creature of the moment and of the obvious in the moment. When he is hungry he thinks only of eating, and he will take whatever is edible and available to him to satisfy his hunger. Food has one purpose only for Baxter. It satisfies the craving he feels in his stomach. Once his hunger is put to rest, Baxter moves on to other things-- usually a nap. Baxter’s diet has been imposed on him by his care taker, and he doesn't like it. He fails to see the point because it only exaggerates his hunger. He doesn't notice that he is over-weight,and he doesn't understand the health concerns this brings. All Baxter knows is that he is hungry when he is hungry, and he is satisfied when he has had enough to eat.
Fasting is not the same as dieting, and it’s not about the obvious effects of not eating weight loss, feeling more energized, etc. Although some of these may be beneficial side-effects of eating less, when we fast we need to have some different points in mind.We want to feel the desire for food in fasting, but we use this passion to raise a profound question for us. What do I genuinely want from life? Our physical hunger is only a token sign of the deeper hungers that drive our lives. We need to take stock of these. What am I working for in my work and family? What do I think will bring me happiness? What does the Gospel say we need to desire? “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”
Fasting helps us to notice what we often take for granted. By feeling our need for basic nourishment, we come to see what genuinely nourishes us from a deeper perspective. Food is a way God shows us His goodness and providence. It is rich in taste, texture, aroma and appearance as is God’s loving presence in our lives. It is not about gobbling it down to get on to the next thing. It is about savoring what life offers, sharing it with others, and acknowledging God as its source. Fasting should slow us down so that we appreciate what we have to sustain our whole livesbody, mind and spiritand so be less anxious about having enough and how long it will last. “Recall the lilies of the field"
The rules of the Church on fast and abstinence set the boundaries for us as a community to share this fundamental spiritual practice. However, it is often too easy to follow the rules, and miss the point. We eat less that God might become more in our lives. When we are truly fasting, we desire God more and make choices that aim to realize that desire. We see God more in the various circumstances we face each day, and that vision drives out fear and worry. Fasting opens our senses to the richness of God’s love, and knowing this, we grow in gratitude for the gift life is. Fasting holds back a little on our bodily comforts that our spirits might recognize more the fullness of divine life.
Baxter can’t fast, but he can go on a diet. We fast during Lent that we might more and more desire to feast in the loving presence of our living God.