28.02.2020 — Appropriate fasting

Friday after Ash Wednesday — 28th February 2020 — Mt 9,14-15

Appropriate fasting

Jesus’ meal with his disciples in the tax collector’s house raises question about fasting. To the disciples of John, Jesus responds with three parable-like analogies from everyday life. They pull together unlikely elements: weddings, mourning and fasting. In the context of the disciples’ question, mourning refers to fasting, though ‘to mourn’ is not an appropriate response for fasting. Fasting is inappropriate for two reasons. Firstly, it accompanies solemn and distressing circumstances of repentance and confession (1 Kgs 21,27-29; Neh 1,4; Dan 9,30). Secondly, it seeks forgiveness and atonement for sin (Dan 9,3). Jesus has evinced forgiveness, healing and exorcism in his ministry through personal fast. However the time appropriate for fasting will be when Jesus will be taken away. It is the time between his resurrection and Parousia or return in triumph (24,3). We are in this “in-between” time, in which fasting is indeed necessary. As a spiritual discipline, fasting sustains disciples (6,16-18) in an appropriate way of life. Nevertheless, God’s chosen fast is to loose the bonds of injustice, to break every yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked (Isa 58,6-14; Mt 5,3-12; 25,31-46).