St. Matthew tells us that after Jesus heard that his cousin, John had been imprisoned, he set out from Galilee on his ministry. "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
This simple message is the foundation of our life in Christ. Each fasting season we are called to remember our true aim in life: to be united in Christ, through the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Before we can become a lamp on a lampstand though (Matthew 5:15), we must humble ourselves to become true disciples of God. We do this by putting our passions in check, tempering our pride, and listening to God, so that it is not us who live, but God who lives within us (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, next fasting season, focus on what matters. Return to prayer, so that God may be with you. Give generously, so that the angels may have cause to rejoice. And abstain from all that is idle and unholy, so that you guard your mind (Romans 12:2). Then, when the Master comes to us in the banquet feast we may feast richly at his table.
St. Theophan the Recluse reminds us that even though we are called to spread the Gospel to all around us, we must first hear the Gospels ourselves and begin the work within ourselves first before we can become the salt to the world.
"Every Christian has the power to heal infirmities—not of others, but his own, and not of the body, but of the soul—that is, sins and sinful habits—and to cast out devils, rejecting evil thoughts sown by them, and extinguishing the excitement of passions enflamed by them. Do this and you will be an apostle, a fulfiller of what the Lord chose you for, an accomplisher of your calling as messenger. When at first you succeed in all this, then perhaps the Lord will appoint you as a special ambassador—to save others after you have saved yourself; and to help those who are tempted, after you yourself pass through all temptations, and through all experiences in good and evil. But your job is to work upon yourself: for this you are chosen; the rest is in the hands of God. He who humbles himself shall be exalted."