Friday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Corinthians 4:1-5; Luke 5:33-39)
Lifting the regular Friday abstinence from meat fifty years ago has resulted in very few Catholics doing penance outside the Lenten season. Yet the Code of Canon Law as well as the wisdom of the ages mandates regular penance. Especially in cultures of excess like that of the United States showing remorse for overindulgence would provide needed correction. Jesus indicates this need in today’s gospel.
Jesus teaches the same Law as John and the Pharisees, but he does not insist on the same penitential discipline. When asked the reason behind his apparent laxity, Jesus says that the time for fasting will come when he has been taken away. Then he gives a couple of analogies for what is happening. His new perspective on the Law does not conform readily to old customs. Like fresh wine it must be handled differently from the old wine or it will never be drunk.
We do not like to limit ourselves. Out of a felt need to curb our intake, we submit to the call to fast in Lent after the winter holidays. But we reel at the suggestion of regularly doing penance. Considering the salutary value to both spirit and body, we should not be so obstinate. Fasting on Friday focuses us on the Lord’s total sacrifice for our sins. It makes us more conscious and appreciative of our salvation.