Jesus was convinced of his Mission even at the age of twelve: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49b). In spite of this awareness he makes forty days of Fasting before his public ministry. (Ref. Lk 4:2). From the temptations followed by his fasting, we come to know that he was strengthened by the Holy Spirit and was able to withstand any worldly temptations or any dictations of Satan/the evil.
One is not always able to overcome the natural inclinations with mere knowledge and convictions. The Gospels make it clear that Jesus continued this power of the Spirit which he got through his Fasting throughout his life by constantly praying at night or in the early hours of the day break, even if it was a very busy day that they could not have time to eat. (Ref. Mk 1: 32-35).
Prayer and Fasting helps one to overcome the natural inclinations of our body and mind which normally tend to take pleasure in the things of this world. Jesus categorically expresses the need of the control of our senses (tongue, eyes, hands etc.) in his principles of (Christian) living, especially the first two: do not kill and do not commit adultery. (Ref. Mt 5:21-48, particularly vv.21-30). Prayer and Fasting is part of the training of our body and mind to orient them to the things that are extreme important and eternally exist than spending time and energy on things unimportant and momentary.
As we try to control our senses and mind, there will be a revolt or resistance by these faculties against any restrictions or control. Our intellect and reasoning will compel us to think of the foolishness of not having the pleasures that is just in our reach or at the stretch of our hand. If we try with our own wisdom, knowledge and power to control them, sure, we will fail, teaches us the history. Jesus fully aware of this fact teaches us to pray and fast, through his words and deeds. (Ref. Mk 9:29).
An unbridled life will lead one eventually to ruin. Such a life instead of leading us to the fullness of life, destroy our fortune for an unfathomable experience of life secured for us in the lap of the God of love. Jesus has come to invite and lead us to such a life in a place which he has prepared for us. The promise of Jesus that he has prepared for us rooms in his Father’s house is so trustworthy and instills confidence and happiness in anyone who believes in Jesus. (Jn 14: 1-3).
Jesus is the source of life. We have to graft our lives with his so that life giving sap flows from him to our lives. (Ref. Jn 4:14; 15:4ff). Jesus is the only one who promises to give us life in full. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10b). Unless and until we prepare ourselves to be worthy of them, these promises would remain unfulfilled.
Passion, death and the Resurrection of Jesus or the Paschal Mystery is the only way to achieve this new life he promised us. Therefore, from the beginning onwards, the Church earnestly recommend forty/fifty days of Fasting as a preparation for this great feast of Resurrection, the foundation of our faith and the guarantee of our life eternal.