Scripture: Lectionary # 382: Genesis 27:1-5, Psalm 135:1-2,3-4,5-6.
Jesus shares with us his practical, down to earth wisdom. Paraphrasing some
of today’s words from the living voice of Jesus we have: “No one sews new
cloths on old garments; we do not put on long faces and fast at a wedding;
do not mix old wine with new wine nor put new wine into old skins–you know
what happens when you do! His words make sense and even make us smile.
Yes, Jesus has a sense of humor and laughs and smiles. All risible humans
do smile and this is characteristic of us. Jesus uses parables that are so
striking that they caught people by surprise in his day and do the same for
us today. Some of them are riddles, others are allegories, and still
others focus on comparisons and similies. All of these figures of speech
pertain to wisdom sayings and wisdom writings. Solomon was said to have
mastered these forms of speech that are certainly witty, profound, and at
times very funny.
Getting back to today’s passage in the Gospel, we realize that we
Christians do not fast except on appropriate days like the Fridays of Lent
or in the older liturgical practice on other days that had a vigil or
special significance. Then fasting was the right time to do it– a kairos
moment. Fasting from the liturgical and prayer point of view enhances our
spiritual life and makes us see things more clearly that are of a spiritual
nature. Fasting is a form of prayer common to our fellow Jews, Muslims,
and other Christian dispensations. Among the Muslims it is one of their
five pillars of the faith of Islam. Thus we join in with others in the
spirit of their fasting since it is a sign of their devotion to the one God
whom all monotheists believe in. Fasting sharpens our senses and gives us
keener insights while we pray. It should be a reasonable practice not one
that weakens us. Our intentionality is important in the exercise of
fasting. A spiritual motivation is the reason for it, not simply to make
us look better because we are losing weight! That is simply a symptom or
by-product of fasting. We become more atuned to the Holy Spirit and the
little surprises of grace when we fast with a spiritual motivation. Graces
come to us through the Word of God, the words of God, and the sacraments.
We also share graces by being in good relationship with others and in our
respect for the environment and our thanks for the cosmos.
Thus it is better to fast on the given days within the calendar of the
Church. These days are not that frequent and thus we see the reasonable
quality of fasting so as not to hurt our somatic qualities. It is a
devotional act rather than a burden or a hardship. Amen.