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Friday, March 10, 2000

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Isaiah 58:1-9
Psalm 51
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' kind 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). 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 of the Great Jubilee 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:  Francis' community has made a commitment to each other and to God to fast.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, July 28, 1999

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 3, 1999