FEB/ 19. LENT. FRI AFTER ASH WED. MT. 9. 14-15.
Updated: Aug 24
John’s disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’
In this beautiful reading Christ draws out attention to the nature of our relationship with him; - pointing out to us it equates to an intimate marriage union, with Christ being the bridegroom!
A marriage involves and extremely intimate relationship that is founded on Love; - and this is what Christians have been invited to partake in?
It involves a giving of one’s heart to the one loved and the reason this reading and “message” is so special and unique is that the love is between God, the creator of the Universe, and each of his creatures individually?
This was, and still is today, a breathtaking revelation; - that the Creator of the world wants to have an intimate love relationship with each and every one of his creatures.
Even as we ponder such a concept today, in the twenty first century, we should still be shocked at a Creator who wants to have such a relationship with his creatures; - even though they were, and continue to be, sinners?
If such a relationship was proposed, within the framework of today’s world, where a King desired to enter into a marriage relationship with a serious criminal, we would call it “madness”! How much more so when we are talking about a relationship between the Creator and his sinful creatures?
The other aspect of this reading that is important is that Christ is indicating that “things are now changing” as far as the practice of religion is concerned. In the past fasting, and multiple other “rules”, including the sacrifice of animals, had come about as a means of atoning for sin.
But what we are dealing with in this Gospel passage is Christ indicating the end of the Old Testament, and the start of the New; - where “The Lamb of God” and the “Bridegroom” have now arrived, and are introducing God’s People to a new relationship, built on Love!
Christ indicated this was a “changeover period”, from the old to the new, when he stated: - “Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’
In a sense Christ is pointing out that this is a brief “honeymoon period” when a new and loving relationship is being established, but “the time is coming when the bridegroom will be taken away!”
Christ’s mission was to prepare his disciples for the time he is was longer present. He had to point out that, despite his pending absence, this “love relationship” could and would continue via Faith, and Prayer, and Sacrament; - a wonderful and awesome proposal that continues today; - but it was not easily understood at the time “the Bridegroom” was living among us!
Gospel Acclamation cf.Am5:14
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
Seek good and not evil so that you may live,
and the Lord will be with you.
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
First reading Isaiah 58:1-9 · The sort of fast that pleases me
Thus says the Lord:
Shout for all you are worth,
raise your voice like a trumpet.
Proclaim their faults to my people,
their sins to the House of Jacob.
They seek me day after day,
they long to know my ways,
like a nation that wants to act with integrity
and not ignore the law of its God.
They ask me for laws that are just,
they long for God to draw near:
‘Why should we fast if you never see it,
why do penance if you never notice?’
Look, you do business on your fast-days,
you oppress all your workmen;
look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast
and strike the poor man with your fist.
Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases me,
a truly penitential day for men?
Hanging your head like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
– it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and
undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,
to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.
Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’