Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, and people came and asked Jesus, “Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, while yours do not?”
when feeling vulnerable
I gather all my similarities
to bolster a sense of solidarity
to reduce questions of trust
an inner wilderness cries out
for validations of behavior
who’s wrong who’s right
at least you and them fight it out
fasting is fasting or its not
just being between meals doesn’t count
serious repentance is serious
as are rules and signs
either be an expected Messiah
or pack up all your other tricks
there is no room for word play
in the face of a righteous fast
Turn from feasting to fasting catches us between the devil and the deep blue sea, between a rock and a hard place. Some see Jesus’ followers as gluttons; some as severe ascetics. Some try to find a rule of thumb for what following might mean for them. Is learning from Jesus the same or different than being a student of Baptizer John or a Pharisee?
The law of Moses has one day of fasting—the Day of Atonement. This is close to most peoples having feasts of celebration but no ritualized fasting.
Over time additional reasons for fasting came into view. A major one is an appeal for justice (related to John’s imprisonment?) or to change the course of a nation’s future (Nineveh?). In addition to mourning and penitence, fasting is a prayer intensifier and a preparer for vision questing. These and other reasons to fast can lead to the institution of preventive fasts such as those of the Pharisees on Mondays and Thursdays—the claim: regular fasting will help keep all the rest of life on the straight and narrow so no fault will come your way.
The question of where fasting fits in with learning from Jesus will be something that can assist or hinder people from hearing a call to follow. This call is quite a subjective one. Sometimes it is heard or misheard by an individual. Sometimes it is heard by a community regarding one in their midst needing to be called forth. Regardless of its hearing, calls need testing for there are consequences in the accepting of a call, particularly one that is misheard.