Saturday of the Second week of Advent
"He will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah"
Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church
Elijah and fasting ; PL14, 697
"He will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Lk 1,17)
What is fasting if not the essence and image of heaven ? Fasting is the soul’s comfort, the spirit’s food. Fasting is the life of angels, the death of sin, the destruction of faults, salvation’s cure, the root of grace, the foundation of chastity. By this ladder we come more quickly to God. Elijah ascended by this ladder before he ascended in the chariot and, as he left for heaven, he left his disciple this inheritance of sobriety and abstinence (cf. 2Kgs 2,11-15).
It was in the power and spirit of Elijah that John came (Lk 1,17). Indeed, he too gave himself to fasting in the desert and his food was locusts and wild honey (Mt 3,4). For this reason, he who had won the victory over the capacities of human life by his self-control was thought of not as a man but as an angel. We read about him that: “He was more than a prophet. He is the one of whom it is written: Behold, I send my angel before your face to prepare the way before you” (Mt 11,9-10 Gk; Ex 23,20). Who, by means of human strength, could have ascended on fiery horses, on a fiery chariot, to follow a course through the air [like Elijah] if not he who had transformed the nature of his human body by the strength of the fasting that granted him an imperishable nature?