A time to fast- Monday, 2nd Week in ordinary time – Mark 2:18-22

A time to fast- Monday, 2nd Week in ordinary time – Mark 2:18-22

Today we read the third of the five conflict stories that the evangelist narrates and this time the opponents of Jesus are the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees. While the focus of the passage seems to be about the religious practice of fasting, Mark uses this opportunity to present Jesus as the Messiah whose public ministry takes place in this ‘special time’ in which the old forms of religious practices were not appropriate.

The issue at hand seems to be that of fasting. John’s disciples and the Pharisees fast while Jesus’ disciples do not. Interestingly the targets of Jesus’ opponents are now made out to be His disciples and not Him. However, it is clear that He is the intended target, for his disciples were merely a reflection of Him and if they did not fast, then the suggestion implied was that He did not fast.

The fasting practiced by the Jews was merely a traditional religious practice. The only fast that was stipulated in the Old Testament was the Day of Atonement. The Pharisees however observed additional fasts on the second and fifth day of the week and imposed the same on everyone else.

So what then is this passage all about? Jesus begins his ministry in Mark’s Gospel with the proclamation that “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near!” Having announced that time, He now announces that He is the messianic bridegroom, His public ministry is a ‘special time’ in which the old forms of religious practices were not appropriate.

One should not assume that Jesus is merely some itinerant preacher running around trying to subvert ritual boundaries by destroying the traditional practices by introducing something completely new. He is here to align the real practice of the faith with what God wants for His people. These human religious traditions often have little to do with God and much to do with pandering to human need.

 Jesus’ teachings are new and bold and aligned with the will of God. They are not some patchwork of thought to be attached to the traditional practices of the Jewish establishment. They demand a newness of both wine and wineskins. As the teachings are ‘new’ the receivers of this good news must also put on a ‘new mind’. The old boundaries cannot contain the new reality of God’s reign coming near in Jesus.

In announcing His time as Messiah, Jesus also makes clear that His public ministry is a unique time (2:19a) and then for the first time we hear a hint about His death (2: 19b-20)

Fr Warner D’Souza

References and inputs from the JBC

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One thought on “A time to fast- Monday, 2nd Week in ordinary time – Mark 2:18-22”

  • “A time to fast” is well explained Fr. Warner with a bold appeal to us all to shun man made traditions ( linked to expression of our Faith on special occasions or otherwise.

    However, I must admit that our old mind sets aren’t that easy to leave behind as most of us have LIVED a considerable time period in the old mind set.

    You will surely remember the practice of shooing the evil eye/spirit ( DISHT ), being one such practise of saying select prayers while making small cross signs from head to toe with red chilly & salt and
    then burning the mix. I never understood either its meaning or its purpose.

    But coming back to the Gospel insight by you, I am just beginning to realise how much of a hurdle this OLD MIND SET actually is. It is to me a CHALLENGE that I must take up to better understand THE WORD OF GOD, which is truly OUR DAILY BREAD.. by GIVING UP the OLD MIND SET

    ThnkU & God Bless you Fr. Warner..


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