Jesus cryptically reveals His coming Passion and exhorts the disciples of St. John the Baptist to seek conversion in Him. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Temperance so he can conquer gluttony and by striving to grow in the Virtue of Self-control so he can master his cravings in reparation for his sins.
2nd Week in Ordinary Time – Monday – Mk 2:18-22
John the Baptist, a virile ascetic who lived and preached in the rugged desert, practiced mortification of the mind and body (including fasting) to prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom (Jn 3:29). John the Baptist, having heroically denounced King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, is imprisoned and will be killed for defending the sacredness of marriage. The Baptist’s followers practice fasting, notice Jesus’ disciples do not fast, and come to Jesus for guidance.
Like the Baptist, Jesus fasted, demonstrating His extraordinary sacrifice for God the Father by fasting for an extended period (40 days – Mt 4:2), underscoring the importance Jesus placed on the manly acts of fasting and mortifying the body. John the Baptist had called Jesus, “the Bridegroom” (Jn 3:29), which confirmed previous prophecy that revealed God’s extraordinary love for His people was strong, like the love a bridegroom for his beloved bride (Is 54:5-8), and was also a cryptic revelation that Jesus, the Bridegroom, is in fact, God. In responding to John the Baptist’s followers, Jesus takes on the title of the Bridegroom, a confirmation that He is God. Jesus instructs His disciples to enjoy His presence without fasting until His Passion, and that they are to reestablish the practice of fasting (and sorrowful mourning for sins) afterwards.
Jesus exhorts John the Baptist’s disciples to make a complete break with the Old Covenant and give themselves completely to Him. In veiled terms, Jesus’ metaphor of new wine/old wineskins mysteriously points to the outpouring of mercy in the transubstantiation of His Blood in the Eucharistic wine. Ominously, Jesus’ metaphors also warn of the destructiveness of not giving one’s self completely to Him (being torn or burst).
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Soberly consider, with fear of the wrath of God, that despite the desacralization and degradation of marriage in modern culture (civil marriages, outdoor/vacation/themed marriage, marriage as drunken party, “re-marriage” after divorce, same-sex “marriage”, polygamy), Jesus, the Divine Priest, deliberately and prominently takes on the self-designation as the “Bridegroom”, leaving an indelible confirmation of the profound sacredness of the Sacrament of Matrimony and the importance of Chastity.
Conquer gluttony by building the Virtue of Temperance
Realize: Modern culture is obsessed with eating and drinking (fast food, food porn, binge eating and drinking, finickiness) and many men are stuck in the Deadly Sin of Gluttony (CCC 1866). Jesus calls every Catholic man to heroic virtue to free him from sins which enslave him, and so he can draw closer to Jesus.
Believe: Reflect upon the Virtue of Temperance (CCC 805, 1809, 1838, 1866, 2290).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Temperance, help me build the Virtue of Temperance so I can be freed of my constant gluttonous urges to be finicky about what I eat and to eat or drink in excess, be motivated to eat healthy foods in proper amounts, exercise to remain physically vital, and refocus my attention on You and more fully experience true and lasting joy.
Fast to master cravings and in reparation for sin
Realize: To grow in the Cardinal and Heavenly Virtue of Temperance, the Church urges men to regularly fast: on every Friday, before receiving the Eucharist and on designated fast days (e.g. Lent, Advent).
Believe: Reflect upon the essential and manly discipline of Fasting (CCC 1387, 1438, 2043, 2742).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Virtue, help me build the Virtue of Self-Control (a part of Temperance) so I have the discipline to master my cravings through fasting; allow me to offer my sacrifice to You in reparation for my sins and the sins of the world.