Fasting And Feasting

“The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.” What is fasting all about? What’s the spiritual point? Jesus’ answer helps us see the point of fasting is relationship with Jesus Himself.

Fasts (and other acts of self-denial) are a way for us to focus our attention away from inessential things so we can focus on the essential things. They detach us from things that are not important so we can cling to what is most important. They help us to grow in our love and surrender to God Himself. That is why the disciples cannot fast, do not need to fast – they are already near Jesus! “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?”

This is one way that Jesus shows that he brings something completely new into the world. He IS the Bridegroom spoken of in the Old Testament to describe the Covenant of God with His People. This is new cloth, new wine! This is the Good News! But this Good News does not fit into the cramped confines of the spiritual disciplines of the Pharisees, confines so cramped by their own arrogance and expectations that there is no room for Jesus there.

They cannot see who Jesus is, they cannot accept what Jesus is saying, because their old wineskins and old cloth cannot bear it. In order to receive the Good News, they must be made new. Instead, they cling to what they know (because they have fashioned it themselves) rather than opening themselves to something that is far beyond them because they are afraid the new will ruin the old.

And it will. So they fast rather than feast.

They would rather cling to their old elaborate rules than let go, believe, and be made new so that they can feast on the incredible Truth Jesus offers them! Jesus is trying to tell them that He comes to make us a new creation and bring a new kind of intimacy with God, a New Covenant, a new communion.

For the Pharisees, the old cloth and wineskins were the many minute laws and the pride they took in them, as well as their specific expectations about who the Messiah would be. What about us? What are the old cloth and wineskins in our own lives? What are the beliefs about God and about ourselves that we use to remain in control over what we receive from Jesus? What are the old cloths we don’t want to let go of, or the old wineskins we just keep refilling with old wine?

“Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Jesus wants us to enter into a profound intimacy with Him, so that He is free to pour into us and through us the mighty Love that changes everything. He wants to make us new creations in the New Creation, open to receive all He longs to give us. Lord, give us the grace to receive Your Wedding Gifts!

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is

Feature Image Credit: Zac Durant,