The Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan
Today’s Gospel: Matthew 9:10–17
On Ash Wednesday, as part of the invitation to a holy Lent, we were invited an observance of the season “by prayer, fasting and self-denial’ and other acts of reflection and discipline. Fasting has always been a practice of the faithful and is a biblical discipline that traces back to the Old Testament. So then, what are we to make of Jesus’ response to the question posed by the disciples of John the Baptist regarding the lack of fasting by his own disciples, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Jesus isn’t saying here that fasting is bad. But, this Gospel today really helps us to understand the purpose of our Lenten fasting, and the proper motivation for it. Fasting should be about the emptying of those parts of our lives that keep us from recognizing Jesus’ presence among us and the awareness of what God wants for our lives. When we deny ourselves, whether that be food or other activities or when we change how we use our time, we are not only thinking about growing closer to God but following him more closely. Over the years I have found that giving up something often offers the opportunity to add something. Today I hope that we may all think of some way to empty ourselves—to let go of something—so that we may be filled with God’s love and reflect God’s presence where ever we may find ourselves.
Support us, O Lord, with your gracious favor through the fast we have begun; that as we observe it by bodily self-denial, so we may fulfill it with inner sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2006)