The disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why
do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples
do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "The wedding
guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with
them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom
is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an
old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak,
and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine
put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the
wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new
wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to
you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is
you ask. Left to myself, I often take the easy
and convenient path; yet I know the way of a
Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find
the reason to abandon the easy path for a more
perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning
of your command: “Follow me.”
Petition: Lord, help
me to value the place of fasting in my life.
1. Creating Hunger for God: Fasting has
its place in the life of holiness. Like the precept
of poverty, fasting is the purposeful privation of a natural
good to make the soul more sensitive to the supernatural
goods of the Spirit. It is the silencing of the
flesh in order to feel more intensely a spiritual hunger
for God. Just as the Israelites had to grow hungry
in the desert before they could worthily receive the bread
from heaven in the gift of manna, so in our
life there is place to put aside the distractions of
what is good for that which is holy. In the
practice of self-denial, we will find the spiritual receptivity of
a new wineskin that will not burst when, through prayer,
God pours in the new wine of the Kingdom.
2. Respecting the End: The practice of piety
is not an end in itself. Rather, it is oriented
to the ultimate end of the spiritual life: union with
Christ. Christ must unweave John’s disciples from an excessive rigor
in their spiritual life, one that has lost God as
its proper object. Spiritual pride can grow subtly in persons
who take upon themselves forms of devotion or asceticism for
their own sakes. In all things, even in the spiritual,
we have to look at the end. If some spiritual
practice does not lead us to live God’s will and
his presence in a more loving manner, then it is
of no use to us.
and the Passion Lead to Spiritual Feasting: The moment of
the Passion will come; the days of mourning will arrive.
The fasting that the disciples lived and that the Church
lives is one of uniting ourselves to the suffering Christ.
Self-denial in order to do God’s will becomes a participation
in Christ’s Redemption. Christ’s closest friends will want to share
his sorrow, suffer his privations and make his holocaust visible
to others through their sacrificial way of life. May I
be ready to live union with Christ, embracing periodic acts
of self-denial and the ongoing crosses of my duty for
love of souls and his Kingdom.
with Christ: Lord, help me practice true devotion and sacrifice.
Renew in me a holy desire to seek you above
all things, so that all I possess in my life
is ordered to serving you better and glorifying your name.
Resolution: I will make a special sacrifice
to fulfill a duty of my state in life, uniting
myself more to the suffering Christ.