Jesus gives us permission to rejoice and celebrate in today’s Gospel. “How can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” The human heart needs occasions to celebrate and rejoice as a leaven in the midst of life’s challenges and troubles. This past Wednesday most of our nation joined in groups of family and friends to celebrate our inherited freedoms. These were freedoms fought for long ago and preserved in a constitutional form of government. The treasured freedom most recently highlighted through news events is our freedom of religion. We thank God for that gift that many in the world do not enjoy, and now we are rallying to preserve within our nation.
Jesus also alerted those listening to him that there are appropriate times for fasting. The scriptures, both old and new testament, teach us that fasting is necessary for all of us, it is not an option. It us to discipline our innate desires and drives. Fasting also amplifies our prayers and pleas to God. So often prayer and fasting are encouraged together, because they supplement each other especially when we ardently appealing to God . Since we have celebrated this week our freedoms how very appropriate and it would be to fast one day this coming week. We could make as our intention for fasting, the strengthening of religious freedom in our nation. Right now we as Catholics are fully aware that a specific threat to our religious freedom lies within a recent HHS ruling. Now is the proper time to fast and appeal to God that this threat be resolved.
There are other reasons to make days of fasting a part of our regular practice as Christians. It disciplines our instinctive desires and drives and thereby facilitates our efforts overcome strong temptations. Temptations like chemical addictions, pornography, bursts of anger, and strong feelings that embody any of the seven capital sins come through a broken human nature and quite prevalent in our American culture. Take up a practice of fasting to support your efforts to walk as a follower of Christ.
Jesus always encouraged balance in life, celebration and discipline. And He offers us his support when we pray and fast trusting in his compassionate response.
- Fr. Patrick Geinzer, C.P.