“Fast Because You Have A Need!”(Lk.5:33-39).
William Robertson Smith, a great Old Testament scholar and a researcher of comparative religion stated that no religion that has moved man began like a tabula rasa. It must borrow something from the old.
However, the idea of introducing the new means the old lacks full satisfaction. In Africa we say “When you dig a new road you must cut across the old road; sometimes in many places.” This is called “continuity.“
Jesus emphasised this continuity when he said, he had not come to abolish the law, but to ensure its fulfilment(Mt.5:17). At the same time he came with something new that had to be accepted as he presented it..“New wine must be poured into new wineskins.” Jesus also knew that those who are steeped in traditionalism find it difficult to embrace what is new. Of such he said,“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old wine is better.'” That is in the same way we say today that “wine gets better with age.”
Such people could not understand why Jesus had such a liberal attitude towards fasting. While the disciples of the “old skul” teachers fasted and prayed, Jesus’ disciples just went on eating and drinking, yet it did not bother Jesus.
Jesus is not against fasting. He himself fasted for forty days and received empowerment to begin his ministry. From time to time he withdrew to lonely places where he fasted and prayed.
He recommends fasting for his disciples, but warns against hypocrisy that makes fasting a public display of piety.
Fasting should not be the fulfilment of a religious itinerary. The individual must have a reason for a fast.
The timing for fasting must be appropriate. Jesus, the bridegroom is not here with us, so fasting is recommended for us. Wedding parties are feasting occasions and it is foolhardy to attend a wedding party and say that you are fasting. That is why weddings and other joyful occasions are not recommended during Lent observances.
If you must fast, fast for a reason. Do not make a public display of your fasting. However, there is no condemnation for those who go about eating and drinking. For such people Jesus (the bridegroom) is always with them. He has not left them.
Weekend prayer: Holy Spirit inspire me to observe an appropriate fast and to fast for the right reasons. Amen!
Have a blessed weekend! Peace be with you!
Rev. Babila Fochang.