Read Hebrews 5:1-10, Ps. 110:1-4, Mark 2:18-22

“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.” (Mark 2:20)

Today’s readings draw us to reflect on the priesthood. Who is a priest? What does a priest do? What makes him different from the rest of us? Why do we need priests? Who is the model priest or say, the greatest priest that ever lived? These questions are perfectly answered in today’s readings.

A priest is first and foremost a man like every other human being but with a special calling. Like Samuel, a priest is a human being who sleeps very close to the tabernacle and thereby hears God’s voice daily; a human being who listens and counsels like Eli, a human being who points out important things to people like John the Baptist in yesterday’s Gospel passage who said: “Behold the Lamb of God.”

The priest’s basic function is to offer sacrifice and every sacrifice involves death, destruction, or fire. In the days of our fathers, the sacrifice was the blood of an animal; a goat or sheep. But in the case of Jesus (the perfect high priest), the sacrifice he offered was his own body and blood.

It is not easy for any priest just as it wasn’t easy for Jesus. The book of Hebrews tells us “He learned to obey through suffering… he offered prayers with loud cries and tears.” In the life of any priest, two of the toughest things he has to deal with are obedience and prayers. The essence of his suffering is obedience. To obey is to forget your will and follow the will of God, the will of the church, and even the will of the people over whom he is a shepherd.

At the same time, every priest knows how important prayers are. Yet, being faithful to all his prayers is something that requires a lot of personal sacrifices and even suffering. There are always so many other things to do. The harvest is rich but laborers are few so the priest has to perform so many other functions leaving him no time even for himself. Sometimes as priests we are so consumed in the work of God that we forget the God of the work; we push personal prayers aside and postpone our divine offices indefinitely. It is not easy but it is possible.

In our Gospel passage, Jesus who is our Great High Priest reveals himself as the Bridegroom; the one whose presence there is no need for fasting. Jesus is not condemning fasting but he uses the occasion to reveal his identity as God. Surely, when we get to heaven, there will be no need for fasting because we would be in the presence of God. 

For now, we fast – we deprive ourselves; we discipline our bodies so as to get our Spirit attuned to God. Our fasting is a longing for God and not simply a way of getting the things we want from God.

Many of us only fast when we are troubled, when we are passing through some difficult time, or when we think we need something desperately from God. In other words, we try to use fasting to bribe God or get him to answer quickly. This should not be the case as God is not a man who can be bribed or cajoled to act in a particular manner. 

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, may my Christian life be more authentic. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Monday of week 2 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Hebrews 5:1-10, Ps. 110:1-4, Mark 2:18-22).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu