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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 15.01.24

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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 15.01.24

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1ST SAMUEL 15: 16 – 23

In those days: Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.” And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction of the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

The Word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 50: 8 – 9, 16bc – 17, 21 and 23 (R) 23bc

R/. To one whose way is blameless, I will show the salvation of God.

“I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices; 
your offerings are always before me. 
I do not take more bullocks from your farms, 
nor goats from among your herds. R/.

“How can you recite my commandments, 
and take my covenant on your lips, 
you who despise correction, 
and cast my words behind you?” R/.

“You do this, and should I keep silence? 
Do you think that I am like you? 
I accuse you, lay the charge before you.
A sacrifice of praise gives me honour, 
and to one whose way is blameless, 
I will show the salvation of God.”  R/.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION

Alleluia
The word of God is living and active, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Alleluia

GOSPEL
MARK 2: 15 – 22

At that time: John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to Jesus, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins – and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins.  But new wine is for fresh wineskins.

The Gospel of the Lord.

GOSPEL REFLECTION: To Fast or Not to Fast
January 15, 2024

“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.” (Mark 2:19–20)

The passage above reveals Jesus’ response to the disciples of John the Baptist and some Pharisees who question Jesus about fasting. They point out that the disciples of John and the Pharisees each follow the Jewish laws on fasting, but Jesus’ disciples do not. Jesus’ answer goes to the heart of the new law on fasting.

Fasting is a wonderful spiritual practice. It helps to strengthen the will against disordered fleshly temptations and helps to bring purity to one’s soul. But it needs to be pointed out that fasting is not an eternal reality. One day, when we are face-to-face with God in Heaven, there will no longer be any need to fast or do any form of penance. But while on earth, we will struggle and fall and lose our way, and one of the best spiritual practices to help us return to Christ is prayer and fasting combined.

Fasting becomes necessary “when the bridegroom is taken away.” In other words, fasting is necessary when we sin and our union with Christ begins to fade. It is then that the personal sacrifice of fasting helps open our hearts once again to our Lord. This is especially true when habits of sin form and become deeply ingrained. Fasting adds much power to our prayer and stretches our souls so as to be able to receive the “new wine” of God’s grace where we need it the most.

Reflect, today, upon your approach to fasting and other penitential practices. Do you fast? Do you make regular sacrifices so as to strengthen your will and help you to turn more fully to Christ? Or has this healthy spiritual practice been somewhat neglected in your life? Renew your commitment to this holy endeavor today and God will work powerfully in your life.

PRAYER:
Lord, I open my heart to the new wine of grace that You wish to pour forth upon me. Help me to be properly disposed to this grace and to use every means necessary to become more open to You. Help me, especially, to commit to the wonderful spiritual practice of fasting. May this act of mortification in my life bear abundant fruit for Your Kingdom. Jesus, I trust in You.

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