YEAR A: HOMILY FOR FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
HOMILY THEME: UNDERSTANDING FASTING
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
HOMILY: (Mt. 9:14-25) Friday After Ash Wednesday.
In today’s Gospel Jesus was questioned why His disciples were not fasting. It was customary for all Jews to fast at some designated times. However, many noticed the disciples breaking the law on fasting. Jesus’ answer was a revelation of Himself and an invitation to the look at the true meaning of fasting.
When Jesus referred to Himself as the bridegroom (we, the People of God is the bride), He was referring to Himself as the one to come, the one sent by God to save mankind. Jesus made use of the Jewish wedding tradition of usually fasting while waiting for the groom to come for the wedding. In those days, grooms may change their decisions and decide not to come. Thus, fasting, which was done with waiting in vigil and prayer, was made hoping the groom will not have a change of decision and push through with the wedding. (Baliktad dito sa atin. Babae and inaantay.) Since Jesus, the groom, was with the disciples, there was no need to fast.
The First Reading (Isaiah 58:1-9) gives us a good understanding of fasting. Isaiah pointed out how fasting can backfire. It is not only limited to a personal internal sacrifice. Fasting should not be confined to self. One who fasted from homosexual acts for a month, for example, cannot be expected not to commit them if you put him in a room full of naked good looking hunks! Fasting involves the internal disposition and external situations. The recent list of fasting activities recommended by of Pope Francis to Catholics are very similar to what Isaiah listed;
1. release those unjustly bound,
2. setting free the oppressed,
3. sharing bread with the hungry,
4. sheltering the oppressed and the homeless
5. clothing the naked
In other words, fasting is not only breaking what we usually do in order to discipline ourselves (internal), but also breaking injustices, oppressions, murders, poverty, immoralities, and other situations of sin around us (external). Jesus addressed all of these when He came.His enemies only saw the usual fasting practices. They failed to see the more essential ones. Thus, our effort to fast this Lent should be double edged; internal discipline and external awareness and addressing of evil situations.