Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection February 16, 2024


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R/. A broken and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn.

V/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

V/. Repent, says the Lord, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

At that time: The disciples of John came to Jesus, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

1.      Very often the religion of many is limited only to some religious practices. Their devotion is confined mainly to some pious prayers or proclamations. What they believe is not shown in how they live. What they profess is not lived in what they practice. 

2.      What they proclaim is not testified in their real life. It is like the wedding guests who celebrate the feast but ignore the bridegroom who is the cause and centre of their celebration. Or it is like mourning at a wedding.

3.      Similarly, all our religious practices and activities will become empty and meaningless if they fail to take us closer to God and to others. Just as the whole wedding moments are directed toward and centred around the bridegroom, so also all the religious practices are oriented toward the Lord. They must take us into intimacy with him, to enjoy his presence, to celebrate life with him.

4.      The fault of the Israel people was this: they followed a dry and shallow religion. Their daily schedule was filled with bundles of practices but their hearts were empty of any real spirit of faith. They prayed, fasted, and gave alms.

5.      But they were estranged from God. They were self-blown and self-filling. They were indifferent and unconcerned toward others. They lacked humility, charity, and fidelity. They were self-righteous and complacent

6.      They were insensitive, ununderstanding, and unsympathetic. They were despising and offensive. They always rated themselves far above the other ordinary mortals. They were demanding and exacting toward people. But toward their own selves, they were lenient and self-indulgent.

7.      Further, the greatest deficiency in any religion is a lack of charity toward others. It is a failure to loosen the bonds of wickedness, and undo the straps of the yoke of injustice and oppression.

8.      It is to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and clothe the naked. The right type of fasting (in fact all the religious observances) is to humble oneself, not to seek our own pleasure, not to quarrel and fight and hit.

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