“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast. (Mat 9:15)
Do you remember the last time you fasted? For me, it was two months ago when blood had to be drawn from my small veins to check my vitals. Perhaps the last time most Catholics have fasted was during the prior Lenten season. I highlight this because fasting isn’t something people enjoy doing. In fact, why should we fast at all? If you think about it, Jesus—the Bridegroom—hasn’t been taken away from us. He’s still present in the Blessed Sacrament. He’s still present in our hearts. He’s still present when two or more of us are gathered in His name. Shouldn’t the time for fasting be over—for good?
Well, yes and no! Jesus is certainly with us. But as St Paul wrote, we still see “indistinctively, as in a mirror” (1 Cor 13:12). Jesus hasn’t left us, but we still can find it hard to feel His presence and hear His voice. Blame it on the busyness of our lives, or the drives of our fallen nature, or even the limitations of our all-too-human faith. They all can conspire to keep us in the dark.
This is precisely where fasting comes in. We don’t fast because we’re sinners (even though we are sinful). We fast to turn our attention away from ourselves and focus on the One who can fulfill all of our hopes and desire. Each time we deny ourselves—whether it’s plain or peanut M&Ms, time sitting in front of a four hour Packer game or an extra half-hour of sleep—we’re proclaiming that there’s more to life than comfort. We’re proclaiming that the world’s view of happiness and contentment isn’t really the most genuine.
Fasting gives us the chances to seek Jesus with all our hearts so that we can find Him. It helps us rise above our everyday distractions and the desires of our flesh so we can fix our hearts on what really matters. This is why Jesus told us to avoid looking glum :( when we fast—because it’s meant to be done in eager anticipation, not in sadness or guilt. We’re looking for the Lord who has redeemed us. We’re looking for the Bridegroom whose love for us knows no bounds. Oh, and by the way, He’s also looking for you, too! :)
In God’s Time,