John the Baptist, a virile ascetic who preached in the harsh desert, practiced mortification of the mind and body (including fasting) to prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom (John 3:29). The Baptist, having heroically denounced King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, is imprisoned and will be killed for defending the sacredness of marriage. The Baptist’s followers practice fasting, but seeing that Jesus’ disciples do not, come to Christ for guidance.

Like the Baptist, Christ fasted (for 40 days! – Matt 4:2), underscoring the importance of fasting/mortifying the body. The Baptist had called Jesus “the Bridegroom” (John 3:29), referring to God’s spousal commitment to His people (Is 54:5-8).  Jesus, confirming that He is God/the Bridegroom, instructs His disciples to enjoy His presence without fasting until His Passion and to fast and mourn afterwards.

Jesus exhorts the Baptist’s disciples to make a complete break with the Old Covenant and give themselves completely to Him. In veiled terms, Christ’s metaphor of new wine/old wineskins mysteriously points to the outpouring of mercy in His Blood in Eucharistic wine.  Ominously, the metaphors also warn of the destructiveness of not giving one’s self completely to Christ (i.e. being torn or burst).

Awed by Jesus Christ – Jesus confirms that He is the Son of God by revealing He is the Bridegroom.  Divine Teacher uses enduring metaphors (wineskins, patching an old cloak) to draw disciples into deeper reflection.  Divine Prophet, Jesus alludes to His Passion (Bridegroom will be taken away) and warns that half-measures have bad consequences.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Modern society has desacralized marriage, celebrating single-motherhood and being “partners”, endorsing divorce and legalizing homosexual “marriage.” Strengthen your commitment to the Sacrament of Marriage (CCC 1601-1666) by reflecting on how John the Baptist died defending marriage and how Christ elevates the Sacredness of Marriage by His revelation of Himself as “Bridegroom” and the Church as His bride.

2) Modern culture is obsessed with eating and drinking (e.g. fast food, food porn, binge drinking, etc.) and many men are stuck in the deadly sin of gluttony (1866). Christ calls men to heroic virtue to free them from sins so they can draw closer to Him. Pray for Christ to help you grow in the virtue of temperance (CCC 1809, 1838, 2290).

3) The Church preserves Christ’s instructions for men to regularly fast (CCC  1434), including before receiving the Eucharist (CCC 1387) and with the 4th Precept (CCC  2043) which requires “days of fasting and abstinence” to help men gain mastery over instincts and obtain the freedom of heart. Pray for Christ to give you the fortitude to regularly fast to grow in holiness.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory

Virtue of the Day – Prudence

Corporal Work of Mercy – To give drink to the thirsty

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To instruct the ignorant