Friday 4 March 2022: Isaiah 58:1-9; Psalm 50(51):3-6,18-19; Matthew 9:14-15
Oh - something of a surprise - does today's Gospel ask us to not fast in Lent? Jesus is with us, always, is he not, so while the bridegroom is with us, we should not fast?
Observant Jews of Jesus' time would have regularly used the spiritual discipline of Fasting and would have been puzzled - or even outraged - that Jesus' followers did not. The imagery of wedding, bride and groom are used often in scripture to describe the completion of the relationship between God and His people. With Jesus amongst us, are we not in that feast?
Note the phrase that Matthew uses - 'the bridegroom is taken away from them' - then they will fast.
Well, yes we are with Jesus, but at a wedding feast the bridegroom usually leaves the feast - not "is taken away". There is a world of difference - if you were at a wedding feast at which the groom was kidnapped or arrested or some such - you might well fast then! In Lent, that is where we are - in the absence of our Lord, but eager for his return, and so the period of fasting is right and fitting.