Faith Daily | 19 February 2021
PRAYER of the WEEK Ash Wednesday Prayer of the Season
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made,
and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins,
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen APBA p481
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 9: 14-15
14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often,* but your disciples do not fast?’ 15And Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Peter Brady
Today's reading is another demonstration of the conundrum Jesus presented. John's disciples in particular must have been perplexed in trying to work out the relationship between Jesus and John. They knew John was preparing the way for another but had doubts Jesus was that someone. Like the Pharisees, they were wedded to the circular concept that a righteous person fasted so thus someone who fasted had to be righteous. Only a righteous person could manifest the power and knowledge Jesus did, yet he did not encourage his followers to fast as a righteous person should.
Jesus's response is both brief and complex. On the one hand He hints that at some point He will not be there and then His disciples will know suffering. Nor does He say that self-control and fasting are not appropriate, it's just a matter of when they are appropriate. But, importantly, He also hints that through him there is a new relationship between humans and the heavenly kingdom. Ultimately, rejoicing not mourning is the appropriate response to the divine mercy revealed in Jesus.
Lord, this Lent let us feast with gratitude for your merciful love, and let us fast from oppressive behaviour towards those around us. May our prayers and fasting reveal our inner hunger for You.