Friday after Ash Wednesday, Feb 19
Isaiah 58:1-9 / Matthew 9:14-15
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.
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