Meditation of the Apostolic Nuncio, Apostolic Nunciature, New Delhi, Friday 4 September 2020
Gospel: Luke 5:33-39
In today’s Gospel we witness closely a conflict between Jesus and the religious authority of the time, the scribes and the Pharisees. This time the conflict concerns the practice of fasting. Luke narrates diverse conflicts concerning the religious practice of the time: forgiveness of sins, to eat with sinners, fasting, and two conflicts on the observance of Sabbath.
As soon as the Pharisees have received the first answer from Christ, they proceed from one thing to another, with the intent to show that the holy disciples, and Jesus Himself with them, cared very little for the law.
Holy men indeed fast, that by the mortification of their body they may quell its passions. Christ needed not fasting for the perfecting of virtue, since as God He was free from every yoke of passion. Nor again did His companions need fasting, but being made partakers of His grace without fasting they were strengthened in all holy and godly living. For when Christ fasted for forty days, it was not to mortify His passions, but to manifest to carnal men the rule of abstinence.
There are two fasts, one is in tribulation, to propitiate God for our sins; another in joy, when as carnal things delight us less, we feed the more on things spiritual.
For the showing forth of our Saviour in this world was nothing else but a great festival, (παν?γυρις) spiritually uniting our nature to Him as His bride, that she who was formerly barren might become fruitful. The children of the Bridegroom then are found to be those who have been called by Him through a new and evangelical discipline, but not the Scribes and Pharisees, who observe only the shadow of the law.
Having granted to the children of the Bridegroom that it was not fitting that they should be troubled, as they were keeping a spiritual feast, but that fasting should be abolished among them, He adds as a direction, but the days shall come when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast in those days.