Gospel Reading: Mark 2:18-22
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
Some people demanded to know why Jesus' disciples did not fast just like the Pharisees and the disciples of John. Jesus presented to them a wedding metaphor. At a wedding celebration, guests are to be happy and joyful and free of their commitments towards fasting. Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. With Jesus in their midst, His followers did not have to fast, but they had to celebrate. Jesus brings joy not sadness and His coming brings change and a new covenant.
Going through the day and seeing the presence of God everywhere is what we all aim to do: when we have communion (His real presence), when we see nature, when we spend time with our loved ones, when we meet a good and dedicated priest, etc. We should be happy! Have you noticed that people who have Jesus in their hearts are joyful? They see life as a blessing and everything that comes with it as a gift from God. They follow the Catholic Church practices regarding fasting and abstinence not as an obligation, but as a form of prayer with spiritual benefits. They are also courageous, because it is not easy to live a godly life nowadays.
Jesus wants a relationship with us in a new way. We can not follow Jesus and follow the world; they are completely different and they have different principles. His teachings are the only way to salvation and any other teachings lead us to confusion.
Help me Lord to be joyful in your presence. Help me Lord to be open to fasting so that I let my emptiness be filled by the Holy Spirit. Help me Lord to be strong when I live my life not according to the world, but to your teachings. Help me Lord not to follow my old ways, but only yours and not to be so aligned with the world, but with the new kingdom you bought for us.
“Fasting is the support of our soul: it gives us wings to ascend on high, and to enjoy the highest contemplation!" (St Chrysostom)