Amos    9: 11-15
Matthew 9: 14-17


“ When the bridegroom is taken from them they will fast”. In today’s gospel Jesus talks about the age old classical-religious discipline of fasting. The disciples of John wanted to know as to why the disciples of Jesus were not fasting while they and the Pharisees did. Many sages and saints of various religious traditions claim the power of fasting for God-realisation. However, it is only a means and not the end in itself.

To the question of John’s disciples, Jesus says that his disciples will fast when he is taken away. What does this mean? One of the purposes of fasting is to empty oneself in order to fill oneself with God’s presence. This presupposes a deep longing to be in the company of God. But this longing of the disciples was satisfied as Jesus was present with them truly and fully. Because Jesus is “Immanuel: God is with us”.      

And also fasting is understood as a means to renew oneself with new heart and mind: a New Self. The disciples of Jesus were still living in their old self until Jesus left them. After Jesus left, the disciples were gathered as a new body of Christ and were filled with the Holy Spirit: the New Wine.  

Every day is an opportunity to long for God’s presence and be filled with New Wine into our New Self, to taste the newness of life.

Fr. Justin Durai Raj CP is a member of the community at St. Joseph’s, Hobart.