Faith Daily | 4 March 2022
PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p 481
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.
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: Meredith Scott-McMahon
Such a simple small statement from Jesus, but breath-taking when you consider the implications! Jesus must have known from His great fast of ’40 days and 40 nights’ that there would only be one outcome of the path He was to follow. To defy all the powers of the Pharisees and rules of the Scribes with a revolutionary interpretation of Jewish belief, let alone risk the ire of the Roman overlords, would mean certain death.
Yet His composure, His ability to put this whole monstrous outcome aside in His mind, to concentrate His whole mission on the teaching of love as the first principle, blows my mind. He not only ‘feasted’ with the disciples, but also taught inclusivity in the simplest way, by welcoming those the Pharisees regarded as ‘unclean’, the prostitutes and tax collectors to His table. He regularly touched and healed the lepers which made him VERY unclean! Such a contrast to the contemporaneous Jewish teaching that regarded purity in all things to be the most important practice of the faith!
So the superficial criticism of Jesus that He didn’t observe the rules of fasting, are really laughable in this context. But Jesus didn’t deride His critics. He simply put it to them that He was only with His disciples for a short time, and they would enjoy that time in communal celebration while they could.
But He did also foreshadow His coming demise. William Barclay reminds us that this text tells us to enjoy the delights and joys of our lives when they are present, but the journey of our lives is also the way of the Cross.
FINAL PRAYER: APBA p482
O Lord, who for our sake fasted forty days and forty nights:
give us grace to use such abstinence,
that, our flesh being subdued to the spirit,
we may ever obey your godly will
in righteousness and true holiness;
to your honour and glory,
who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen.