Reading 1 Is 58:1-9a
Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19
Gospel Mt 9:14-15
First Friday of Lent, and today’s readings have an incredible teaching on fasting. The first reading is a series of rebukes addressed to those who fast religiously but continue to live selfishly. Fasting ought to break down our egoism, it ought to drive us to acts of mercy and compassion. When we fast, we must fast from self - we must become less self-consumed. The remedy to being self-satisfied, or full of oneself, is to fill our lives and hearts with the needs of others. And that is the true fast because the only way to hunger and thirst for righteousness, for others and their needs, is to starve the ego of self. ”Whoever loves his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it as eternal life.”
This leads us to meditate on the Gospel where we see Jesus defending his disciples’ apparent impenitence. The true meaning of fasting is making room for the other, and in this case, making room for Jesus, the bridegroom. God is wedded to our human nature, the Word is incarnate and seeking souls to espouse. It is the moment of the espousal, it is the moment of the total gift of self - where God is totally giving Himself to men. And this gift is received with great joy because Jesus, God, is present both physically and to the senses of His disciples. After Jesus’ ascension, His presence can only be known by faith. And faith is itself a kind of fasting - our humility and self-denial are the fasting in faith that makes room in our hearts for Christ.