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».
For many of us, fasting and abstinence are the certain essentials of Lenten activities which we include in our daily life. Jesus seems to discourage these kind of activities, when they are not totally orientated towards Him. A day will come, He says ‘then they will fast.” We have to ask ourselves, has that day has come for us?
In principle, Jesus is not against such good activities. He is simply asking us, why do you do this and what do you wish to achieve from this? Is it something that will please God, or that will console your conscience of doing something good in this Lenten season? You doing it because it’s a tradition or there is a spiritual need there? Once we have a sincere answer to these questions, then we can justify our act.
However, we should never forget the fasting which will please God. The prophet Isaiah helps us to understand the divine will and the kind of fasting which will please God. "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Action of the day: choose one act which will please 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).