"When the day comes that the Groom is taken away, then they will fast." —Matthew 9:15
Jesus said His disciples would fast when He was taken away from them. This means they would fast after His Ascension, and this the early Church did (i.e., Acts 13:2; 14:23; 2 Cor 6:5). An extended meaning of this verse could be that fasting is especially beneficial when we feel Jesus, the Bridegroom, has been taken away from us. For example, some pastors periodically go on extended fasts, usually when they notice their zeal to preach the gospel diminishing. During these fasts, they experience a recharging of their enthusiasm for serving the Lord.
Fasting may be especially beneficial when our prayer time is "dry." Fasting can bring us through what seems a communication breakdown to the communion of the wedding feast of Jesus, the Bridegroom. Fasting is particularly appropriate in the desert, where the Spirit led Jesus to fast for forty days (Lk 4:1-2). When the Lord calls us into the desert of drastically simplifying our lives, we should not eat to try and compensate for lack of diversions, but should fast and enter into the spirit of poverty and simplicity.
When our evangelization is flagging, our prayer "dry," and our lives "desert-ed," it's a good time to fast. When Jesus seems to have been taken away from us on earth, then fasting takes us in Spirit to heaven with Jesus.
Prayer: Father, may this forty-day Lenten fast make me lighter physically and spiritually.
Promise: "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke." —Is 58:6
Praise: St. Jerome offered pure worship to God by dedicating his life to caring for orphaned children (see Jas 1:27).
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our leaflet, The Secret of Fasting, or on audio tape AV 46-1 or video V-46.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 14, 2007
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