Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door; and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
When you fast… The only fast prescribed by the Torah of Moses is that of the Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement (cf Lv 16:31). Regular fasting becomes common in later Judaism when pious Jews fast twice a week out of devotion. Some occasionally fast out of grief.
Some, however, as Jesus warns in the Gospel, fast to win the admiration of neighbors who will regard them as men of superior piety. This is manifested through obvious external signs: exaggeration of traditional signs of fasting, like putting ashes on heads, or disfiguring one’s appearance.
Jesus’ followers will last, and Jesus teaches them why and how. They will fast in solidarity with him, the Bridegroom who will someday be taken away from them. Their fasting will not take another form of disguise. Still, joy – not fasting or grief – is the mark of their discipleship. Jesus inaugurates a new relationship with God characterized by the joy of salvation, akin to the joy of the wedding banquet.
Do you fast at all? For what reason?
What good does fasting do to your soul?
Source: “365 Days with the Lord 2017,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.
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