THEME: FASTING AND FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul
HOMILY FOR FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 2 2022
‘The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciplesof the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.’
The statement made in the Gospel of today (Luke 5:33-39) by the Pharisees and the scribes represents one view of holiness. We see fasting throughout the Bible. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and Jesus all went through prolonged fasts as they sought God. Times of national calamity and personal bereavement sometimes called for fasting as a means of humbling oneself, mourning, and seeking God’s mercy. At least once a year on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the Jews would fast, or “afflict their souls.” They would also fast at the New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
Some people would fast regularly week by week. We learn from this passage that regular fasting was the practice of John’s disciples (5:33). The Prophetess Anna fasted regularly (Luke 2:37), as did Cornelius the Gentile Centurion in Antioch (Acts 10:30 in some texts). Paul, too, may have practiced regular fasting, though this isn’t entirely clear (2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:27).
The Pharisees fasted twice in a week (Mondays and Thursdays) and was adopted by John’s disciples. The early Church fasted still twice but different days (Wednesdays and Fridays) to shift from the days of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were proud they fasted twice a week (Luk. 18:12).
Jesus’ response showed something radically new about His Kingdom. John had first referred to Him as the bridegroom (John 3:29). God used exactly the same language to describe His relationship with Israel: ‘I will betroth you to me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in loving kindness and mercy’ (Hosea 2:19).
Now Jesus is the Bridegroom who would call to Himself a bride, the true Israel, made up of both believing Jews and Gentiles. The point is then, ‘How can my disciples fast when this long expected promise is now being fulfilled. The reason that the Pharisees and John’s disciples fasted was because they were longing for this day when God would again show His favour to Israel. They were mourning waiting for the days when God would restore Israel.
Sometimes, we feel that others are not doing the right thing simply because they don’t act exactly the way we act. We do this even in the church. We can go as far as developing hate for them because of this. We may miss an important truth about life if we continue to focus on what they should have done but failed to do. The Pharisees and scribes couldn’t recognise in Jesus the fulfillment of the promises of God because they took the opposing path. If we are busy judging what people do wrongly, we wont have the time to love them. Sometimes, we ask questions and say things not to know but to show how worthy we are. Do not judge if you do not know all perspectives. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our world, bless and protect us all through Christ Our Lord Amen. Please, stay safe. Happy Weekend. Good morning
Fr. Karabari Paul
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