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THE SPIRIT OF FASTING


Friday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

My dear encountered couples:

Jesus had a way of changing the particulars of a subject without changing the essence. The scribes and Pharisees approached him on the subject of fasting. They had in mind fasting from food.

It had been the custom since the time of Moses to abstain partially or totally from food and drink on certain days, during certain seasons. God had laid down certain rules for fasting. Moses and the prophets fasted, even Jesus fasted. The observation made by the scribes and Pharisees to Jesus was this:

“The disciples of John the Baptist fast frequently and offer prayers; the disciples of the Pharisees do the same. Yours, on the contrary, eat and drink freely.” They wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus were not fasting as they thought they should.

“Can you make guests of the groom fast while the groom is still with them?” Jesus asked. “But when the days come that the groom is removed from their midst, they will surely fast in those days.” Jesus kept to the subject of fasting but changed the particular way of fasting, that is, the giving up of food, to the giving up of his visible and physical presence.

In other words there is more than one way to fast. Though we should all cut down on our food intakes from time to time, and not just for physical reasons but for spiritual, we can enter into the essence of fasting in many other ways. By giving up on certain days or during certain hours those things we love most: radio, television, music, golf, shopping, gossiping on the phone, being with our best friends, noise. Some people can’t seem to get along without noise. Jesus stuck to the subject of fasting but broadened it to include more than food and drink.

Let us try to enter into his mindset and see if we can find things to fast from.

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