|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XX: ”The Confession of Our Own Weakness, and the Miseries of this Life” (second entry)
Kempis’s disciple tells Christ in this chapter how difficult it is to resist the temptations of this life and their associated trials. This leads him to exclaim the words above. He really wants to be detached from the world, not to love the world for its illicit pleasures.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 9:14-17
This reading is Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s disciples who wonder why Jesus’ disciples do not fast as they do. Jesus, calling Himself the Bridegroom, says they are not to fast while He is with them, but the time will come when He no longer is with them and then they will have cause to fast. He ends with the comparison to pouring old wine (the Old Covenant) into new wine-skins (the New Covenant); the promise of the Old has been fulfilled in Jesus — the outmoded rituals of the past no longer apply.
Surely, this life has plenty of “afflictions and miseries” and is “full of snares and of enemies.” But what match are these to the power of the Lord when He is on our side? If and when we take Jesus out of the picture, such troubles are insurmountable. If it is the case that we no longer have the Lord in our lives, then fasting is certainly a good way to begin inviting Him back into our lives. And if the Lord simply is not sensibly present and no consolations are forthcoming, fasting is a beautiful way to honor Him. Fasting is an expectation of the Christian, in any case (“When you fast…” — Mt 6:16-17). A detachment from earthly goods helps to keep this life in proper perspective by keeping us focused on God and others so that we keep the Great Commandments (see Mt 22:36-40) now in the blessed hope of entering eternal beatitude later..