Saturday of the 13th Week of the Year

Matt 9:14-17

The Question about Fasting


The gospel tells us that to be with Jesus gives us an experience of joy. A person who walks with Jesus walks in the radiance of joy. A gloomy Christianity is impossibility. A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms. A genuine Christian radiates joy both internally and externally.

The gospel also tells us that no joy is everlasting. Nothing lasts forever I think it is an inevitability of life that even the dearest joy must come to an end. Worldly joy is always passing it is transitory. God alone abides in the midst of all the chances and changes of life. Even human relationships must somebody come to an end. A friend now will surely not be there forever. Only the joy of God lasts forever, and if we have it in our hearts nothing can take that joy away from us.

Finally, the gospel is also a challenge. It is as if Jesus is saying: “You have experienced the joy that following me can bring. Could also go through the troubles and hardships of a Christian cross?” Christian life brings joy, but Christian life also brings sorrow, blood, sweat and tears which cannot take the joy away but which nonetheless must be faced. So Jesus said: “Are you ready for both: the Christian joy and the Christian cross?” (Fr. Louie Punzalan, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


A lady bought a pair of shoes not because it fitted her but because of its beauty. Though she enjoyed the beauty of the shoes and bragged about it before friends, she suffered blisters as a consequence of her capriciousness. Hearing her complaints, her older brother scolded her: “Ayan, dahil sa kakiyahan mo, magdusa ka!” What a sense of useless suffering! As to the deeper purpose of fasting and abstinence, a believer asked me these questions: “Does the Catholic Church intend to promote suffering in the practice of fasting and abstinence? Would these practices of fasting and abstinence be understood as a kind of coercive obligation merely because they are regarded as cherished tradition? If so, what then is the sense of life when that life is filled with restrictions?” These questions are hard to resolve in a human way.

God, through the prophet Amos, conveys the message that life is meant to be celebrated. The images of rebuilding the ruins, overflowing juice of grapes, vineyards and fruits that shall never be plucked again, all these paint an abundance life of God’s grace that are to be enjoyed.

But more than material things, Jesus in the gospel, implicitly brings out that he is the reason for life’s celebration. Fasting and abstinence could only find their meaning in Jesus. Their necessity is demanded by the desire to experience Jesus as the living God. In other words, Jesus is the “new wine” who gives new meaning to life in order that life could be celebrated with joy. The wineskins represent all believers and traditional practices. As the “new wine,” Jesus calls for renewal and transformation; he calls us to turn away from sinful ways, from being old wineskins to new ones.

Fasting and abstinence aim to cut excessive desire for earthly pleasures and create a thirst and hunger for higher values that can be found in Jesus’ person and teachings. In doing so, Jesus (new wine) is preserved in the believer (the new wineskin) who, in turn is preveneted from destruction. A life free from sin is indeed a call to celebration! (Fr. Fred Saniel, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


Fasting appears to have lost its practical and spiritual significance in a consumerist society, in a culture that worships before the altar of physical beauty.

In today’s gospel we can draw out two different perspective on fasting. First, is that of John’s disciples and second is that of Jesus. For the former, fasting is viewed as an obligation. Hence, they questioned and grumbled at Jesus’ disciples’ failure to fast: “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast? The latter, that of Jesus, underlines a deeper aspect of fasting. Jesus rebuked them by way of an allegorical question: “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” Jesus wanted to qualify that fasting is not a mere legal demand; instead it is a way of becoming closer to him. We could say that with Jesus, no fasting is needed; but away from Him, no amount of fasting suffices. Fasting merely grounded on the law is devoid of merit. It is the spirit of the law – the spirit of Jesus that brings fullness to our sacrifice.

Let us reassess our view of fasting whether it is something imposed on us or an avenue to restore our broken relationship with the Lord. It is our propensity to confine ourselves within the rigors of the law that makes it utterly impossible to mix the new wineskin with the old and to patch old cloth with unshrunken cloth. The real worth of our sacrifices is found in our sincerest desire to seek the Lord not on the superficial allegiance to what rubrics demand. (Frt. Samuel N. Agcaracar, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


“Oftentimes Christians look morbidly unsaved, unfree!” wrote the German thinker and son of a protestant pastor, Nietzsche, who eventually despised Christianity for its supposedly hostile attitude towards being fully alive.  In harsh words, he attacked the Christian religion as a “crime against life.” He believed it uphold the wrong values for mankind by preferring weakness to strength, a herd mentality to spontaneity and individual genius and a false morality to honesty. Apparently Nietzsche we surrounded and repulsed by a household and environment full of sullen-faced, hypocritical Christians.

Nietzsche would have done better to reread the Bible. The gospel tells us that Jesus came to bestow life in its fullness. Christianity is an affirmation of life – it is a religion of joy and liberation. Isn’t it ironic that Jesus, who came proclaiming the kingdom and inviting repentance, did not include fasting as a sign of repentance as apparently John the Baptist did? Indeed, the way of Jesus was novelty that defied tradition, a new wine blasting old wineskins. Jesus Himself did fast regularly as all pious Jews of that time did. He shows us, however, to put things into greater perspective. Fasting can attune us to the heart of God or it can degenerate into a form of morbid piety; it can unite us in sharing the hunger of our brothers and sisters or it can divide us with a “holier than thou” attitude. Jesus frees us anew from the yoke of having to earn our salvation by showing off what we can do. It is God alone who saves us. In rich biblical imagery, Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a wedding banquet. God, as it were, is throwing a huge party for His beloved people and giving us a reason to rejoice and celebrate. To fast at a wedding in Jesus’ time would be tantamount to refusing to participate fully in the wedding festivities. It would be considered a serious insult as it implies disapproval of the marriage. The Pharisees, in that sense, were kill-joys.

Do we practice our faith glowing with the joy of God’s saving grace? Let us reread the good news of our salvation. Let us fast from our self-made course and feast on God’s love. Let us prove Nietzsche wrong. (Fr. Oliver Quilab, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


July 2, 2016 Saturday

One of the greatest preachers of the early church, Saint Peter Chrysologus, vividly explains the meaning of the three key penitential practices: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving or mercy. He teaches that prayer, mercy and fasting are one: they give life to each other. There are three things by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures: prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one.

He adds, “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. They cannot be separated.

If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.”

“When you fast, see that others are also fasting. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, give mercy. If you look for kindness, demonstrate kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.”

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus identifies himself with the bridegroom and his disciples with the bridegroom’s closest friends. How could a wedding celebration like it be sad and grim? This was not a time for fasting. There is a proper time for fasting and another time for feasting. A wedding party is a time for rejoicing. Similarly, to be with Jesus is a unique experience of joy and feasting. A person who walks with Jesus walks in cheerfulness and vivacity. Jesus, though, reminds his followers to be ready for both Christian joy and Christian sorrow. Life brings with it both joy and sorrow. (Fr. Louie A. Punzalan, SVD USC, Cebu City Bible Diary 2016)


FEASTING AND FASTING (Matt 9:14-19): The gospel is very clear. We should fast if the bridegroom is taken away. If the bridegroom is with us, if the Lord is with us, we should stop fasting. The question is, should we fast or not?

We should fast because the realistic answer is, “The Lord is not yet completely with us.” We should fast because the Lord is not yet realistically present to us completely. And yet we know the Lord said before he ascended to heaven, ‘I will be with you until the end of the world.” Therefore, the Lord is with us, so we should not fast.

Our Christian life is that way. It is an interplay of fasting and feasting. It is an interplay of presence and absence. The Lord is truly present, yet He is not truly present. The Lord is absent, yet He is present. We say, yes, and yet we also have to say, no.  We must feast as we celebrate the Eucharist, the banquet of the Lord. At the same time, we must fast, because the presence of the Lord in our hearts is not yet complete.

The reality of the Christian life is like this. It is joy with pain, yet through pain, joy in pain.

Today we are celebrating the interplay of fasting and feasting. The Eucharist is the sacrifice of the Lord but it is also the banquet of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters, do we have enough proof in our hearts that we are celebrating, as well as, a sacrificing people? It is true we are an alleluia people. But it is also true we are sinners in need of forgiveness. Christian life is an interplay of joy and pain, yes and no, presence and absence. (Socrates Villegas, Jesus Loves You, pp. 130-131)


Fasting and Feasting

July 4, 2015 (readings)

Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Matthew 9:14-17

The disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever it is you ask. Left to myself, I often take the easy and convenient path; yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

Petition: Lord, help me to value the place of fasting in my life.

  1. Creating Hunger for God: Fasting has its place in the life of holiness. Like the precept of poverty, fasting is the purposeful privation of a natural good to make the soul more sensitive to the supernatural goods of the Spirit. It is the silencing of the flesh in order to feel more intensely a spiritual hunger for God. Just as the Israelites had to grow hungry in the desert before they could worthily receive the bread from heaven in the gift of manna, so in our life there is place to put aside the distractions of what is good for that which is holy. In the practice of self-denial, we will find the spiritual receptivity of a new wineskin that will not burst when, through prayer, God pours in the new wine of the Kingdom.
  2. Respecting the End: The practice of piety is not an end in itself. Rather, it is oriented to the ultimate end of the spiritual life: union with Christ. Christ must unweave  John’s disciples from an excessive rigor in their spiritual life, one that has lost God as its proper object. Spiritual pride can grow subtly in persons who take upon themselves forms of devotion or asceticism for their own sakes. In all things, even in the spiritual, we have to look at the end. If some spiritual practice does not lead us to live God’s will and his presence in a more loving manner, then it is of no use to us.
  3. Fasting and the Passion Lead to Spiritual Feasting: The moment of the Passion will come; the days of mourning will arrive. The fasting that the disciples lived and that the Church lives is one of uniting ourselves to the suffering Christ. Self-denial in order to do God’s will becomes a participation in Christ’s Redemption. Christ’s closest friends will want to share his sorrow, suffer his privations and make his holocaust visible to others through their sacrificial way of life. May I be ready to live union with Christ, embracing periodic acts of self-denial and the ongoing crosses of my duty for love of souls and his Kingdom.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me practice true devotion and sacrifice. Renew in me a holy desire to seek you above all things, so that all I possess in my life is ordered to serving you better and glorifying your name.

Resolution: I will make a special sacrifice to fulfill a duty of my state in life, uniting myself more to the suffering Christ.

© 1980-Present. The Legion of Christ, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Reproduced with Permission of Copyright Owner.


One Bread, One Body – Reflection for July 4, 2015


“When the day comes that the Groom is taken away, then they will fast.” –Matthew 9:15

After a brief moratorium on fasting, Jesus promised that His disciples would fast with such zeal that they would not have been able to withstand it unless they had received a new wineskin, a new life in the Spirit (Mt 9:17).

Now is the time for vigorous, rigorous, powerful, loving fasting in the Spirit. The Lord has decided to drive out certain demons only in this way (Mt 17:21, NAB). Pope John Paul II prophesied that by prayer and fasting the demons behind abortion are to be driven out (The Gospel of Life, 100). He taught that, when we fast in the Holy Spirit, power from heaven descends and walls of deceit are broken down.

Ask the Lord to teach you more about fasting in this month of July. Ask Him how many days and in what way you are to fast in this month. Fast for a certain reason, especially for the protection of children in their mothers’ wombs. Ask the Lord for the strength to persevere in this fast and learn from it, especially about God’s call to fast. Consider asking others to fast with you. You may well remember July 2015 for the rest of your life.

PRAYER: Father, may I fast according to Your will.

PROMISE: “May God give to you of the dew of the heavens and of the fertility of the earth.” –Gn 27:28

PRAISE: St. Elizabeth worked relentlessly in bringing peace between her husband and their son.


SATURDAY OF THE 13TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – MATEO 9:14-17. UNSA MAY GIPASABOT NI HESUS SA PAG-INGON, “ANG BAG-ONG BINO ANGAY’NG ISULOD SA MGA SUDLANAN NGA BAG-O”? Ang pamaagi ug pagtulon-an ni Hesus sama sa usa ka bag-ong bino nga maghatag og kalipay sa tawo. Aron magpabilin ug mapahimuslan ang iyang kalami, kinahanglan kining ibutang sa bag-o ug maayong kasingkasing, nga maoy silbing sudlanan niini. Dili nato mapuy-an ang Kristohanong kinabuhi kon ang atong kasingkasing magpabilin pa sa iyang ngil-ad nga kinaiya ug batasan. Ang Kristohanong buhat kinahanglang magagikan sa maayong kasingkasing, kay kondili magpabilin kining pakitang-tao lamang sama sa gibuhat sa mga Pariseo diha sa ilang pag-ampo ug pagpuasa. Himoon nato nga pag-ampo ang Salmo 51:10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Posted by Abet Uy


FAST TO DEPEND ON GOD – We should not follow traditions blindly. Traditions have their contexts — they did not come from nowhere or were just a pigment of the imagination of our elders. They were experiences of faith. Knowing how traditions came about makes their celebration more meaningful.

Fasting is one of those traditions. In the Jewish tradition, fasting is done as part of sacrifice and prayer. Jewish soldiers fast before they go to battle. Weakened physically but strong spiritually, they fight virtually on the sheer grace of God. Fasting makes the Jew more dependent on God than himself. Jesus knew the tradition of fasting. He fasted when He was growing up. His parents raised Him to be a good Jew. But since He had now started His ministry, He meant to proclaim the Good News of salvation. Part of that proclamation was to reveal who He was, teach the laws in their true spirit, and open the eyes of the Jewish leaders.

Why did the Pharisees fast when He who is to come is already here? It was hard for the Jews to recognize Him as the Messiah. He gave them the parables of the new wineskin and cloth to remind them how closed their minds and hearts had been to new revelations from God. They had determined how God will come to them. They had relied more on themselves than on God.

We are more fortunate than the Jews. Now, we need not worry about how and when the Messiah will come. Jesus is the Messiah. We had seen and heard Him. All we have to do is to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. He is our God. God knows what is best. Let us follow His will. Easier said than done, isn’t it? It is because we lack the faith to go with them. We again behave like the Jews waiting for the Messiah. We rather believe in ourselves. Maybe we need to fast. Fr. Benny Tuazon

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What is your favorite religious tradition? Do you know how that tradition came about? Try to do some research so you’ll appreciate more what you’re doing.

Lord, make me a disciple of love, not tradition.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

SATURDAY OF THE 13TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) Mateo 9:14-17 – UNSA MAY GIPASABOT NI HESUS SA PAG-INGON, “ANG BAG-ONG BINO ANGAY’NG ISULOD SA MGA SUDLANAN NGA BAG-O”? Ang pamaagi ug pagtulon-an ni Hesus sama sa usa ka bag-ong bino nga maghatag og kalipay sa tawo. Aron magpabilin ug mapahimuslan ang iyang kalami, kinahanglan kining ibutang sa bag-o ug maayong kasingkasing, nga maoy silbing sudlanan niini. Dili nato mapuy-an ang Kristohanong kinabuhi kon ang atong kasingkasing magpabilin pa sa iyang ngil-ad nga kinaiya ug batasan. Ang Kristohanong buhat kinahanglang magagikan sa maayong kasingkasing kay kondili, mahimo kining pakitang-tao lamang sama sa gibuhat sa mga Pariseo diha sa ilang pag-ampo ug pagpuasa. Himoon nato nga pag-ampo ang Salmo 51:10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Posted by Abet Uy


Saturday of the13th Week in Ordinary Time

Am 9: 11-15; Mt 9:14-17

Celebrate the Mass with the Presence of Bridegroom

What is the Mass? The mass is where the bridegroom is fully present. It is a drama: it’s not a tragedy because there is a resurrection. In every great drama there is first of all the conception of it strong in the mind of the artist. Second, there are long rehearsals, the choosing of characters and types; third, there is opening night; and forth, there are road companies. The drama of the mass was conceived in the mind of the eternal dramatist, for the lamp was slain from the beginning of the world. Then there were the rehearsals and the types and the choosing of characters: Paschal lamp, the serpent, and the many other instances and prototypes of sacrifice in the Old Testaments. Then came the opening night, the Last Supper, which looked to the cross. And then the Lord sent out his road companies, His priests: “Do this in memory of me”. Same action, same words, same drama, only different characters pronouncing the lines. When, therefore, we begin the Mass we are reaching back to the cross of Calvary and lifting out of its rocks and planting it right down here in our midst. Every time a Mass is offered Calvary is represented somewhere on earth. Fr. Davis Panadan CMI


July 02, 2016

REFLECTION: Before Cardinal Prosper Lambertini became Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758), he was commissioned by the current Pope to revise the outdated norms for the canonization of saints and to draw up new ones based on the common characteristics of past saints. The Cardinal studied the matter in depth and produced a two-volume outline of the new norms of canonization. Now the first third of the first volume is all about finding if the potential saint was joyful. If he or she was not outstandingly joyful, then there is no need to go any further: the candidate is simply not a canonizable saint.

Is this so very surprising? If God is Uncreated Joy, how can anybody close to him not be full of joy? All the saints were persons conspicuous for their sense of joy.

In today’s gospel reading Jesus explains why his disciples are not fasting. “How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” This is the explanation for the saints’ joy. They are so united to Jesus that, for all practical purposes, the Bridegroom is always with them.

All of us can experience constant joy. The secret for that is to choose Jesus once and for all.



See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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