Friday after Ash Wednesday, Feb 19

 Friday after Ash Wednesday, Feb 19

Isaiah 58:1-9 / Matthew 9:14-15

 Jesus talks about fasting: "My disciples will fast after I go.”

 The week after a Jewish wedding was a week of joy for the couple and their friends. To fast during this time of joy would be insane. Jesus compares the coming of God's kingdom, which he announces and begins, to a Jewish wedding feast. 

To fast during this time of joy would be There will be a period of fasting after Jesus goes and leaves to his disciples the work of bringing God's kingdom to fulfilment. 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 fulfilment.


What have we done for the kingdom in the past? What are we doing for it now? What ought we to do for it, beginning today?

"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do only a little. Do what you can." Sydney smith


People in the Old Testament ask: What is the use of fasting? God seems not to be near when they fast. The prophet tells them because real fasting consists in justice and love. Since God has made a covenant with his people, that covenant comprises also justice and love from one person to the other. In the gospel the disciples of John, who fasted, were asking the disciples of Jesus why these didn’t fast. In other parts of the gospel Jesus gives an answer similar to that of the prophet, but now Jesus said that because he has come and is with his disciples, they should rejoice rather than fast.


In the Roman Catholic Church, there are only two obligatory days of fasting. One is on Ash Wednesday, which was just two days ago, and the other is on Good Friday. Yet the Church encourages the faithful to embrace this spiritual discipline of fasting especially during this season of Lent, and especially on Fridays. This spiritual discipline of fasting is not just a religious or pious act but rather one that expresses a deep longing for conversion and repentance and for the healing grace of the Lord.

It is because we see how detestable our sins and transgression is that we pray and fasting is indeed a form of prayer. Also, when we see sin and evil happening around us, like oppression of the poor and violence on the weak, injustice and deceit, then all the more we must pray and fast. For the sin and the evil in the world, and even in the Church, let us take seriously our prayer and the discipline of fasting. Then when we cry out to the Lord, He will answer; when we call out to Him, He will answer: I am here.


    Encountering Christ:

    1. Spiritual Comparisons: In this Gospel, John the Baptist’s disciples seemed to be comparing their spiritual rigor more favorably to the (presumed) laxity of Jesus’s disciples. Perhaps we could reflect on how the saying “comparisons are odious” could cover this situation and others that we might encounter this Lent. Sometimes we see others doing less and resent it. Or maybe we find ourselves feeling embarrassed by someone who seems to be doing more. Instead of comparing, which is never advisable, we should really look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Am I doing what God wants me to do this Lent?”

    2. Perpetual Wedding Guests: Another aspect of today’s Gospel that we might consider is what attitude should imbue our Lenten efforts. Jesus remarked that the wedding guests (his disciples) should not have been mourning because the bridegroom was still with them. Certainly, the bridegroom is always with us: Jesus is always present, in the Eucharist, through the Holy Spirit, in the words of the Gospel. So, even if we are feeling the pain of sacrificing and fasting, it can help to remember that the Lord is with us. We are his perpetual wedding guests!

    3. Then They Will Fast: We know that we are sinners and that the world is marked by much evil. We can rejoice in knowing that our penance offsets some of the evil that afflicts society. Our Lady of Fatima taught the little seers this prayer: “Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of you, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” May the Lord find us willing to give up some of our comforts to help souls reach heaven.

    Conversing with Christ: Lord, free me from all judgments. Help me not to compare myself to others, but rather to be totally focused on pleasing you. Help me to do all I can to advance the cause dearest to your heart, the salvation of souls!

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will offer my Lenten efforts in particular for one person that I know really needs prayers.

    For Further Reflection: “There is more security in self-denial, mortification, and other like virtues, than in an abundance of tears” (St. Teresa of Jesus).



Lord of the Covenant, we have not to fear your judgment if like you we become rich in mercy and full of compassion for our neighbor. May we not only know that you ask us but practice with sincere hearts to share our food with the hungry and to loosen the bonds of injustice, that through us your light may shine and your healing spread far and wide. Be with us in your goodness. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen