Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 16.01.2023
HEBREWS 5: 1 – 10
Every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honour upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers‘ and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 110: 1, 2, 3, 4 (R.) 4cd
R/. You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The Lord’s revelation to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your foes your footstool.” R/.
The Lord will send from Sion
your scepter of power: rule in the midst of your foes. R/.
With you is princely rule
on the day of your power.
In holy splendour, from the womb
before the dawn, I have begotten you. R/.
The Lord has sworn an oath he will not change:
“You are a priest forever,
in the line of Melchizedek.” R/.
Hebrews 4: 12
The word of the Lord is living and active, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Alleluia.
“The bridegroom is with them.”
MARK 2: 18 – 22
At that time: John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “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 un-shrunk 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 lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: To Fast or Not to Fast
January 16, 2023
“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.
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.