Why do… your disciples… not fast?

Published July 2, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin


The disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus to inquire why his disciples are not fasting, while they and the Pharisees do. Fasting is an important religious practice. In Judaism, there are assigned dates when to fast, like Yom Kippur, a day of complete fasting. Jesus explains that his disciples will fast, too, when he is gone. He takes this question as an opportunity to predict his death, when he as the bridegroom is taken away from them. 

The question can be thrown also to us, Christians of today. Why do we not fast as much as the disciples of John and the Pharisees? We only have an hour of Eucharistic fast. We fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, yet we are still allowed to eat one full meal on those days. 

We Christians must recover the meaning of fasting. It is not only a discipline but a spiritual activity, to pay more attention to our forgiving God than to the food and things we enjoy every day.

First Reading • Am 9:11-15 

Thus says the Lord: On that day I will raise up the fallen hut of David; I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may conquer what is left of Edom and all the nations that shall bear my name, say I, the Lord, who will do this. Yes, days are coming, says the Lord, when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the vintager, him who sows the seed; the juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it. I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel; they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits. I will plant them upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked from the land I have given them, say I, the Lord, your God.

Gospel • Mt 9:14-17 

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Source: “365 Days with the Lord 2022,” St. Pauls, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.