Jesus' disciples did not fast, while the Pharisees and John's disciples did fast (Mt 9:14). Jesus explained that His disciples would fast later after they had received a new life in the Spirit. This was necessary because fasting in Jesus' name is so powerful it would be incompatible with the old lifestyle.
For example, Jesus' kind of fasting is sometimes very extreme. Jesus fasted for forty days and nights (Mt 4:2). This was much longer than the Israelites' annual fast on the Day of Atonement and even the two fast days per week of the Pharisees. Without the new life in the Spirit, we won't have the discernment, strength, and purity of motivation which is important for an extensive fast.
Jesus' kind of fasting was also different from Old Testament fasting because it was an action more than a reaction. Old Testament fasting was usually a reaction to sin and its disastrous results. But Jesus used fasting to inaugurate His public ministry and the Church's first missionary journey. Without a life of ministry and mission, we don't have a wineskin that can hold Jesus' way of fasting. If we have trouble fasting or don't see its value, maybe we must first change the old wineskin of our lifestyle.
Prayer: Father, lead me to drastically change my lifestyle. May I then experience a great need to fast.
Promise: "Let peoples serve you, and nations pay you homage." —Gn 27:29
Praise: Fr. Juan, suffering from terminal cancer, witnesses to his faith in Jesus by proclaiming: "I don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future."
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, January 4, 2001
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 24, 2001
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