we fast and pray
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights
According to the Bible the tenth day of the seventh month (Tishri) is the Day of Atonement. The Jews call it Yom Kippur. In Hebrew Yom means day and Kippur means to pardon. The word atonement carries the meaning to English-speaking people. It means to make amends or to reconcile — to become “at one” with God and each other.
The observance of the Day of Atonement originates with God’s word to Moses:
And The Lord said to Moses, “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement; it shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present an offering by fire to The Lord. And you shall do no work on this same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before The Lord your God.”
The Lord commanded the Day of Atonement as a solemn annual observance of the Israelites. It is unique in that it is the only God-commanded Old Testament Holy Day in which fasting was required. The fast was such a strict requirement that anyone who failed to do so would be cut off from the community.
Jesus went into the dessert to fast for forty days – an extraordinary fast – just as Moses and Elijah had done. But, for us, Jesus’ fast clearly conveys something far more important.
The Jews fasted on the Day of Atonement. Yet they would always face another Day of Atonement.
Jesus is the world’s atonement. His sacrifice, once and for all, brought about atonement on our behalf. As such Jesus’ fast was in preparation for His public ministry and His journey to the day of our atonement.
Prepared for this journey, Jesus is immediately tempted. Will He quit and abandon His journey to bring about the day of our atonement, freeing us from the grip of evil and sin? No! He refuses and sends an even stronger message about the consistency of His mission and Who He is: That He would not use His power for His own ends; That He would not gain followers by pointless displays of miraculous power; and that He would not switch sides to gain power and influence.
Jesus fasted and prepared for His journey toward a permanent and forever day of atonement. At one with the community and with His heavenly Father He knew, as St. Paul tells us: just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life [would come] to all.
This Lent let us embrace Jesus’ atonement – fasting and praying, making the corrections needed to come into line with His will.