Pulling a fast one
“Love and marriage, love and marriage, goes together like a horse and carriage,” so the old song goes. Of course, in today’s society, the number of people getting married has dropped in number, and it doesn’t mean that those who choose not to get married don’t love each other! But it does mean that those who marry must love each other. The vows exchanged aren’t simply a contractual agreement, they are promises of love, and love fills the vows made. In today’s reading, Jesus uses an image of marriage to convey something of himself. John’s disciples wonder if Jesus and his disciples are pulling a fast one when it comes to fasting! But Jesus is the bridegroom, and he has come for a marriage, a marriage based on love. And like a bridegroom’s best man in our own day who attends to the groom, supports and assists him, coordinates celebrations, is filled with happiness and excitement for his friend, so Jesus’ disciples are filled with joy when they are in his presence. But, he reminds them, the bridegroom will be taken away, and then their joy will cease for a time, their hearts will be broken, their hopes dashed, their dreams dissolved. One aspect of fasting is penitential or sorrowful. Perhaps we do this in many areas of life without even thinking about it. We may be hard on ourselves, even punish ourselves in some way because of some feeling of guilt or personal responsibility for things done wrong, or to show that we are sorry, to express our sorrow. So too with our fasting through Lent. It can be a sign of sorrow for our sins for which Christ died. Fasting is uncomfortable because sometimes our relationship with Christ is made uncomfortable by the way we live. But he has laid down his life for us and we, in turn, are called to lay down our lives for him.
God our Father, as we take the first steps on our Lenten journey help us to be open and honest about our sins, and to draw closer to you in penitence and love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.