Readings 20150119

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com

ON THE FAST TRACK

“You are a priest forever.” — Psalm 110:4
Fr. Al Lauer, founder and long-time author of One Bread, One Body, often told this story about God’s perspective on fasting: “A man once told God in prayer that he hated the way his priest ran the parish. God responded by telling him to fast for his priest on one meal a day for three months. At the end of the first month, the man reminded God that he had kept his fast, but God hadn’t changed the priest at all. After two months, the man grumbled to God that his priest wasn’t changing at all, and he was about to quit fasting since he didn’t see much good from all his sufferings. Finally, three months passed. As the man was attending Mass in his parish, God reminded him that the three months were up. The man had forgotten the deadline since he had given up his fast weeks ago. God asked him how he thought his priest was doing. The man responded: “Oh, him? Father’s doing just fine!”

Would you like to get a lot of priestly vocations fast? Then fast a lot for priestly vocations. Would you like someone you love to be converted? Then fast for that purpose. When the Lord sees we are regularly fasting for an intention, He’ll know that our prayers are serious and that we want it enough to sacrifice for it.

Fasting gives evidence of our personal commitment. God wants to know that we are truly fasting for His sake, for what He wants. “Was it really for Me that you are fasting? Or was it not rather for yourself?” (see Zec 7:5-6) Fasting breaks bonds, sets God’s will in motion (Is 58:9-14), and puts everything in “fast forward.” When God’s people truly hunger for His will to be done, for His Church, for holy vocations, for conversions, for an end to abortion, then they will fast (Mk 2:20).

Prayer: Father, may I hunger for Your will more than for food. Promise: Jesus “became the Source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” —Heb 5:9 Praise: Before Jeanne died at the age of sixteen, she led her best friend and that friend’s family to Jesus. (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Which comes first, fasting or feasting? The disciples of John the Baptist were upset with Jesus’ disciples because they did not fast. Fasting was one of the three most important religious duties, along with prayer and almsgiving. Jesus gave a simple explanation. There’s a time for fasting and a time for feasting (or celebrating). To walk as a disciple with Jesus is to experience a whole new joy of relationship akin to the joy of the wedding party in celebrating with the groom and bride their wedding bliss. But there also comes a time when the Lord’s disciples must bear the cross of affliction and purification. For the disciple there is both a time for rejoicing in the Lord’s presence and celebrating his goodness and a time for seeking the Lord with humility and fasting and for mourning over sin. Do you take joy in the Lord’s presence with you and do you express sorrow and contrition for your sins?
Jesus goes on to warn his disciples about the problem of the “closed mind” that refuses to learn new things. Jesus used an image familiar to his audience – new and old wine skins. In Jesus’ times, wine was stored in wine skins, not bottles. New wine poured into skins was still fermenting. The gases exerted gave pressure. New wine skins were elastic enough to take the pressure, but old wine skins easily burst because they were hard. What did Jesus mean by this comparison? Are we to reject the old in place of the new? Just as there is a right place and a right time for fasting and for feasting, so there is a right place for the old as well as the new.
Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old (Matthew 13:52). How impoverished we would be if we only had the Old Testament or the New Testament, rather than both. The Lord gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new. He doesn’t want us to hold rigidly to the past and to be resistant to the new work of his Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants our minds and hearts to be like new wine skins – open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Are you eager to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word and plan for your life?

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Help me to seek you earnestly in prayer and fasting that I may turn away from sin and wilfulness and conform my life more fully to your will. May I always find joy in knowing, loving, and serving you.”

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