Fasting is Feasting

Fr. Francis Scaria

Smiley face In the healing of the boy possessed by an evil spirit, Jesus tells his disciples, “This kind can come out only through prayer and fasting”. There is great power in fasting and prayer. Fasting is giving up food of this world to receive the food of heaven. Fasting demonstrates that there is a food that can satisfy our hunger for ever and there is a drink that can quench our thirst for ever. In John chapter 4, we read that when Jesus and his disciples came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, they were hungry. The disciples went to get food while Jesus waited at Jacob’s well. Later when the disciples came back, they urged Jesus saying "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." When they did not understand what he said, he clarified, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.”

Fasting is a means, not an end. The Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Lk 18:9-14) was one who considered fasting to be an end. It is evident that one who mistakes the way for the end, remains on the way, never reaching the end. He reaches only the mile-stone, not the place indicated on the milestone.

Fasting is a means to establish higher values than those that are material in nature. Fasting reminds us that there is a value system beyond the one tangible in this world. This is clear in the words of Jesus who quotes Deut 8:3 and says, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). Fasting is a process of trying to live by ‘every word that falls from the mouth of God’. Without this aspect, our fasting can be empty and futile. This is also why Jesus justified his disciples who did not fast even when the disciples of the Pharisees and those of John the Baptist fasted (cf. Mk 2:18). For many of them, fasting had become an end in itself and thereby lost sight of its transcendent goal. While the disciples of John and those of the Pharisees fasted, Jesus’ disciples were feasting on every word that came from the mouth of God.

The Pharisee, although he fasted, failed to live by the Word of God, failed to feast on the Word of God. On the other hand the publican, although did not fast, tried to live by the Word and was challenged by the Word.

MUSINGS : 1-25, 26-50, 51-75

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