Gospel Reading: Mt 9:14-15
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
WHY DO WE AND THE PHARISEES FAST?
The question of John’s disciples is indicative of an issue among the early Christians: Why do Jesus’ disciples not observe the customary fasting? Jesus’ response leads John the Baptist’s disciples to a higher level of the meaning of fasting.
Fasting is not only deprivation from food intake; for Jesus, it refers to the time when he is no longer with them, that is, when he will ascend to heaven. While he is still in their midst, they should celebrate.
He implicitly compares himself to a bridegroom. In the Old Testament, marriage is used to describe the relationship between God and the people of Israel (cf Hosea). In the New Testament, Paul uses it to symbolize the relationship of Christ to the Church (cf Eph 5:31-32).
We have indeed reasons for rejoicing: Jesus is present among us always in the sacraments, in the community, in every one of us.
“Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up” (St. Peter Chrysologus).
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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.
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