The disciples of John came to Jesus with the question, «How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not your disciples?». Jesus answered them, «How can you expect the wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast».
Very often the contemporaries of Jesus misunderstood him as a revolutionary and even the disciples of John Baptist didn’t understand him. Jesus is not against the fasting. He says, “time will come” and the time has come for us. Many of us are not close to Him and we know him very much intellectually not personally.
It is important that we understand the kind of fasting that the Lord desires from us. Fasting from the hurting words or abusive languages or rumour mongering, fasting from arrogance and pride, fasting from selfish and egocentric, etc. These kinds of fasting certainly will bring us closer to God, and anything we do which leads us closer to God, will certainly be something pleasing to God. Let us not reduce the fasting to simple privation of aliments. For an example, not eating meat in these days may be very expensive and spending lot of money in buying fish may be ridiculous. When fish is considered as a luxury and replacing this for meat is quite counterproductive. Jesus is asking us, to check whether the bridegroom is there with us or not? He is asking us to choose the right fasting and use this Lenten time as an wonderful opportunity to get closer to God.
«Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast»
Fr. Xavier PAGÉS i Castañer
Today the first Friday of Lent, having experienced the fasting and abstinence of Ash Wednesday, we have attempted to offer our fasting and the prayer of the Holy Rosary, for the Peace, that our World needs so badly. We are willing to take care of this Lenten exercise, our Church, Mother and Teacher, is asking us to abide by, and to remember it was the same Lord who said: «Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast» (Mt 9:15). We have the desire to experience it, not just as the fulfillment of an obligation which is mandatory for us, but —most of all— as the possibility to find the spirit which will let us live this Lenten practice while helping us in our spiritual improvement.
By seeking this deep feeling, we can ask ourselves: which is the true fasting? Already, prophet Isaiah, in today's first reading, tells us which is the fasting God appreciates: «Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard» (Is 58:7-8). God likes and expects from us whatever is taking us towards a true love for all our brothers.
Every year, the Holy Father John Paul II wrote us a message for Lent. One of these messages, under the motto «There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving» (Acts 20:35); helped us to discover the very same charitable dimension of our fasting, which, from the bottom of our heart, allows us to prepare for Easter Time, in an effort to identify ourselves, more and more, with Christ's love which took him to die in the Cross for us. In short, «what every Christian ought to do all the time, he ought to do it now more carefully and more devotedly» (Saint Leo the Great, pope).