Jesus reveals that He is the long-awaited Bridegroom and confirms the need for fasting. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Temperance so he can conquer gluttony through fasting and by growing in the Virtue of Piety so he can frequently walk The Stations of the Cross.
Friday after Ash Wednesday – Mt 9:14-15
Despite practicing rigorous spiritual disciplines (praying through the night, fasting during the Temptation) and keeping a grueling schedule of teaching and healing, some scrutinize Jesus for failing to publicly keep some popular practices of piety. John the Baptist’s followers see that Jesus has been accused of eating with tax collectors and sinners (Mt 9:10-13), and also want to question Jesus because He does not appear to publicly fast. Rather than confronting Jesus directly by asking about His own practice of fasting, the Baptist’s disciples coyly ask Him why His disciples do not fast.
Prior to his imprisonment for heroically denouncing King Herod’s adulterous marriage to his brother’s wife, the Baptist practiced mortification of the mind and body (including fasting) to prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom (Jn 3:29); the Baptist specifically identifies Jesus as “the Bridegroom” (Jn 3:29), referring to God’s spousal commitment to His people (Is 54:5-8). Like the Baptist, Jesus fasted (for 40 days – Mt 4:2), underscoring the importance of fasting and mortifying the body.
Jesus’ response to the misguided disciples of the Baptist (they have failed to recognize Jesus is the Bridegroom) is both a revelation and a rebuke. Confirming that He is God/the Bridegroom, Jesus replies that His disciples are to enjoy His presence without fasting until His Passion, and will fast and mourn afterwards. The Baptist’s disciples must now decide if they are to follow Jesus the Bridegroom, or not.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Reflect upon the Divine Prudence (right thinking and right action for each situation) of Jesus as He Gently Corrects the confused disciples of John the Baptist by urging them to be both sacrificing and balanced: Jesus directs men to prioritize the practices of Religion (a part of Justice, giving God His due praise and worship), feasting when appropriate (for example on Feast Days/Sundays) and fasting when appropriate (Fridays, before receiving the Eucharist).
Conquer gluttony through fasting and 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, especially the sin of gluttony, so he can make more room in his soul for God.
Believe: Reflect upon the manly discipline of Friday Fasts (CCC 538,1434, 2043).
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, conquer my body’s cravings by regular fasting, 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 happiness.
Frequently walk The Stations of the Cross
Realize: To grow in understanding, awe and gratitude for Jesus’ Passion, from the earliest days of the His Holy Catholic Church, pilgrims have walked The Stations of the Cross (also called, The Way of the Cross, Via Crucis, Via Dolorosa), first in Jerusalem and now in parishes everywhere, often on Fridays.
Believe: Reflect upon the holy pilgrimage of the Stations of the Cross (CCC 1674, 2669).
Pray: Jesus, Way of the Cross, help me build the Virtue of Piety (a part of Justice) so I can more fully experience the sacrifice and blessings of walking and praying The Stations of the Cross devotion, during Lent and throughout the year, and ever grow in understanding, awe, and gratitude for Your heroic Passion.