FRIDAY, FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Is 58: 1-9; Ps 51: 3-6, 18-19; Mt 9: 14-15
Going through the Lenten exercise of fasting is not as important as concern for the poor. Most often it does happen that we give importance to fasting on bread and water. True fasting comes from one’s inner being, i.e. it rises out of love for God and neighbour. True fasting enlarges the heart and hungers to satisfy and feed the hungry. The physical fatigue due to fasting is overcome by the generous spirit. Oftentimes, while fasting a person can become a glutton when his/her intentions are not pure. The gratification received in this act puffs up pride at the thought of fasting and considers oneself better than others, perhaps even stronger. Focusing on self-gratification makes one quarrelsome, angry, jealous, etc. Small things are enough to get one on their nerves and into fits of anger, etc.
The Old Testament imagery depicts Yahweh as the husband of Old Covenant Israel. Jesus takes this role upon himself and is now the divine spouse of the New Covenant Church. Jesus uses this marital imagery to reveal his divinity. Since fasting symbolizes mourning and separation, it was inappropriate while Jesus was present among the disciples. Christians fast before celebrating the liturgy i.e. before Christ comes among them in Word and Sacrament. The arrival of Christ then makes it a time of feasting, when the divine Bridegroom gives himself in love to his bride, the Church. Communion with Jesus in the Eucharist is a foretaste of the heavenly “marriage supper of the Lamb”.
There will be a period of fasting after Jesus goes and leaves to his disciples the work of bringing God’s kingdom to fulfillment. We are now in that period. Just as Jesus went into the desert and fasted and prayed as he began the work of announcing and inaugurating God’s kingdom, so we need to solicit God’s special grace by fasting and praying as we carry out the work of bringing God’s kingdom to fulfillment.
Response: A broken and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn
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