Commentary on the Gospel of
Readings: Col 1:15-20; Ps 99:2-5; Luke 5:33-39
Jesus, the bridegroom of the new and eternal covenant
Brothers and sisters,
All of us know that fasting is one of three principal pillars of the Jew’s spirituality. And Jesus, as an authentic Jew would give more importance to practicing it. We can remember his prayer and fasting in the wilderness before he began his public mission (Luke 4:1-13) as well as the healing of the boy from the epileptic demoniac (Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9: 37-43). For this particular attention which Jesus accords to fasting, the Christian tradition adopts the same three spiritual practices for their life: prayer, alms and fasting. Therefore, it is difficult to understand the paradox we have in this part of Luke and we would put the same question to Jesus as the Pharisees and the scribes: “why are your disciples not fasting and saying prayers as John’s and the Pharisees’ disciples do?” Or, why do you permit your disciples to neglect such an important practice as fasting? To these questions, and willing to give the authentic meaning of fasting, Jesus asks another question: “why and when do you have to fast?”. In another words, what for you, is the finality of your fasting?
With these questions, we can understand that Jesus is not against fasting, nor prayer nor alms, but he wants to give its original meaning and to reveal himself as the Concrete presence of God, source of joy for those who welcome him. Fasting like prayer and alms, is not a collection or a compilation of rites without sense, but is a mode of life, a way to the plentiful love of God and man. Moreover, it is helpful to leave sin and be near to God; it is a self- preparation for meeting God, to be in deep communion with him and to reinforce our relationship both with God and with our brothers and sisters. And yet, Jesus being the Word incarnate built, in his own person, the bridge between heaven and earth, between God and man. His life is the new cloth to bear and his teaching is the new vine to drink for the new covenant. With him we are happy and joyful, because he is the bridegroom of the new covenant.
Therefore, all other practices are no longer important to finding happiness, it’s enough to be just in his presence, as he said himself: “ Who saw me saw the Father, because I am in the father and the father is in me…I am the way, the truth and the life”(Cf. John 14: 5-7). So, in our life the important thing to do is not to make multiple spiritual practices, but to know why we have to do it, what is the importance of that practice in my relationship, in my communion with God and with men. To make that discernment, Jesus is our reference, the model of perfect communion with God.