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Friday, February 16, 2018

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Isaiah 58:1-9
Psalm 51:3-6, 18-19
Matthew 9:14-15

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the love-feast and the love-fasting

"Jesus said to them: 'How can wedding guests go in mourning so long as the groom is with them? When the day comes that the groom is taken away, then they will fast.' " —Matthew 9:15

In accord with Jewish tradition, Jesus associated fasting with mourning. Not in accord with any tradition, Jesus taught that His kind of fasting was to be preceded by a wedding banquet. In some cultures, people fast before a wedding and a wedding banquet, but I don't know of any culture where people fast after a wedding banquet. Jesus implies that fasting in His kingdom is not only precipitated by the sorrow of sin but also by the fullness of communion with Him and His body, the Church. In Jesus' way of fasting, we are trying not only to stop sin from leading to more sin but also to move from the earthly wedding banquet to the ultimate one in heaven (see Rv 19:9).

Therefore, fast after and for a wedding banquet. Fast in covenant-love for Jesus, the Bridegroom (see Mt 9:15) so as "to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ's love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain to the fullness of God Himself" (Eph 3:18-19). When you think "fast," don't think "food" but "fullness" and "love."

In the Catholic Church, today is a worldwide day of abstaining from eating meat. Let us go beyond the letter of the law (see 2 Cor 3:6). Let us not only abstain from eating meat but fast in other ways and in the other days of Lent. Begin this Lent fasting in fullness and love.

Prayer:  Father, I love You more than food and life (see Ps 63:4).

Promise:  "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke." —Is 58:6

Praise:  Keeping the old fasting tradition from midnight before Sunday Mass helps Peter remember the awesome gift the Eucharist is.

Reference:  (For a related teaching, order our leaflet, The Secret of Fasting, or on audio AV 46-1 or video V-46.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 10, 2017

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