Fasting for Syria?

One may well ask:  has Pope Francis lost his mind?

Today, millions of Catholics the world over (myself included) are joining with Pope Francis in a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria.  Why?  Don’t you think if Syria wanted peace it would just… stop killing its own people?  Do they particularly care what Christians in other countries think of them or choose to do with their spiritual lives?  Isn’t there enough suffering in the world without having to ruin a perfectly good Saturday with fasting and penance?

Well, shoot… those are all great questions.  But they have a great answer, and the answer is the gospel.

Today, we as Christians choose to take on a little bit of suffering (maybe you give up a dessert, for example, or something more) in solidarity with and prayer for a largely Muslim country in a state of great suffering and turmoil.  Following the example of Mother Theresa, whose feast day was Thursday, we get to unite ourselves to those who are suffering not merely by thinking nice thoughts or sending money, but by daring to engage them in the midst of their suffering, in this case by taking on just a little bit of what they are experiencing through our own practices of mortification.  These small sacrifices not only unite our sufferings to theirs, but to those of Christ which – need I remind you – accomplished (and are still bringing to completion) the salvific work of redeeming the whole world.  So we get to help with that! (Col 1:24)  This is no small thing; prayer is powerful. (Mt 21:22)  Fasting is powerful. (Mt 9:29, Rom 12:1)  Almsgiving is powerful. (Mk 12:44)

How wonderful it is that we have a Pope who is not afraid to call upon the Church to intercede for others (yes, even non-Christians) in their time of need!  How wonderful it is that the world is waking up this morning to find Christians taking up their crosses and following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ himself, the one who gave up everything in heaven and on earth so as to offer himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of those who did not know him.  It’s freaking epic.  Welcome to Christianity, friends!

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