Fasting & Friendship
Updated: Mar 14, 2018
A few coworkers and I signed up to attend a conference at the diocesan center a few weeks ago. One of them surprised the rest of us with some hot chocolate that she bought for us on her way in so we could all enjoy a hot drink as we rode together to the conference. For Lent I gave up sweets, and because hot chocolate is literally melted chocolate (that's how it should be made anyway) I had quite the dilemma on my hands. Do I drink it because it was a gift of love from a coworker and a friend? I was going through all of the options in my head: 1. I could just accept it as a gift and drink it, 2. I could give it to another coworker, or 3. I could save it and take it home to my husband. Number two didn't make much sense to me because I was in the car riding to the diocesan center with the only two coworkers I was going to see that day, and they already had a hot chocolate so who else could I give it to? Number three didn't make sense because I am notorious for spilling; sitting in the back seat without cup-holders, I just knew that if I tried to save it, I was going to end up spilling it all over my coworker's new car. But would going with option one go against my Lenten fast?
This reminds me of a story of St. Francis and his brothers. That year, Christmas was going to fall on a Friday, which put the brothers in a pickle because they are supposed to celebrate Christmas but also fast from meat on Fridays. How could that work? One brother approached Francis about it. Christmas for Francis was the most important holiday of the year because it is the Incarnation, which means "Word made flesh." This is when God, out of love and humility, came to us as we are in human form. He wanted to be so near to us and to teach us how to be like Him, that He came to us in our own humanity. If we didn't have Christmas, we wouldn't have had the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Francis explained that because of these reasons, the Friday fast would be broken; it's a time to celebrate!
My hot chocolate was a time to celebrate too. No, it wasn't Christmas, but it was a day of fellowship and learning. Where I work, we have two luncheons and a picnic every year. We also have staff meetings once a month, but it is a rare occasion for us to get together to go to a conference talk and really share ourselves with one another; our ministries collide together to find the potential growth spots of our parish. I felt as though our hot chocolates were meant to be a celebration of friendship, prayer, growth, and everything that day was about to be. I was given a gift of love and I accepted it, just as we accept the Incarnation into our hearts.