Friends, in today’s Gospel, people ask Jesus why his disciples do not fast. He says that as wedding guests they will not fast while he, the Bridegroom, is with them. But “the days will come,” he says, “when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
Why do we fast? Because we have a hunger for God, which is the deepest hunger. We’re meant to get access to that hunger. We’re meant to feel it so that it can direct us toward God. Every spiritual master recognizes the danger that if we allow the superficial hunger of our lives to dominate, we never reach the deepest hunger.
Thomas Merton once observed that our desires for food and drink are something like little children in their persistence and tendency to dominate. Unless and until they are disciplined, they will skew the functions of the soul according to their purposes.
And fasting is a way of disciplining the hunger for food and drink. It is a way of quieting those desires by not responding to them immediately, so that the deepest desires emerge. Unless you fast you might never realize how hungry you are for God.
Reflect: Why do we fast during Lent? How does this practice affect you?