“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?”

In today’s gospel from Mark (2:18-22) (also recounted with minor variations in Mt 9 and Lk 5), the actions of Jesus and His disciples are objected to because they do not follow the expectations of the people who have observed the fasting of John the Baptist’s followers and the Pharisees.  Jesus tells them that the time for fasting has ended (for now) since the awaited One is now in their midst.  Time for fasting will resume when He is taken away from them.  So to for our day, fasting is an appropriate gesture as we await the Lord.  In a small way we do this prior to receiving Holy Communion, where our longing for Christ is fulfilled in receiving Him in the Sacrament.  In a bigger way, we are asked to fast certain days during Lent as we await Jesus coming forth from the tomb in glory.  And it has always been considered a good and noble practice to fast on certain days and during certain times throughout the year. Jesus is our model.  He Himself fasted as He prepared for His public ministry (in Mt 4 and Lk 4), that for which the Chosen People had been waiting for thousands of years.  He also expected His followers to fast in His Sermon on the Mount (see Mt 6:16-18).  By fasting, especially at our most trying moments and in times when a big decision is looming, we honor the Lord’s call and are more disposed to hear His call and discern His Will properly.

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