Father Walter Schu, LC
disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to
fast. People came to him and objected, "Why do
the disciples of John and the disciples of the
Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered
them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom
is with them? As long as they have the
bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will
come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day. No
one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old
cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the
new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise,
no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise,
the wine will burst the skins, and both the
wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is
poured into fresh wineskins."
Introductory Prayer: Jesus, what
a joy and what a gift to have this time
to be alone with you! I want to know
you more deeply. I want to hope in you more
firmly. I want to love you with greater constancy
in my daily life. Only you can give me
these gifts. Only you can make me a bold and
joyful apostle of your Kingdom.
Petition: Lord, help
me to experience the new joy that comes from carrying
the cross alongside you.
1. The Joy of the Bridegroom:The
Old Testament prophets, especially Hosea and Isaiah, describe the
relationship between Israel and Yahweh as a marriage covenant.
Israel is the bride, often an unfaithful one, and Yahweh
is the bridegroom. When Christ refers to himself as
the bridegroom, he is appropriating a title that had
been reserved to God alone. Clearly, Jesus is much
more than an ordinary rabbi. What experience do we most
associate with a bridegroom and the wedding feast? Joy!
“Although it is true that the cross is never
absent from an authentically Christian life, it is equally true
that the God who meets us on that cross
is the same God who created the heavens and the
earth, the oceans and the mountains, laughter, sunlight, and
every earthly delight” (John Bartunek, LC, The Better Part,
p. 365). Christ came to bring us joy, a
joy that would last into eternity.
2. Should Christians Fast?
Christ says that when the bridegroom is taken away,
then his disciples will fast. This is his first
reference in the Gospel of Mark to his coming passion.
Fasting is a way of sharing in Christ’s sufferings.
Fasting, sacrifices, and acts of self-denial are also means
to detach ourselves from earthly goods in order to cling
more firmly to Christ himself. They make us aware
of how much we need God. But these ways
of sharing Christ’s cross should not make us glum followers.
“Some Christians give the impression that following Christ is
a somber affair, or that the Christian life consists
above all of dour sacrifices and boring obligations. Joyless,
dreary, dull. No wonder their friends want to stay as
far away from Christianity as possible!... If our friendship
with Christ does not fill us with contagious enthusiasm,
we’re probably being a half-hearted friend” (John Bartunek, LC,
The Better Part, p. 365).
3. “Behold, I Make All Things
New” - The movie The Passion of the Christ
puts this phrase from Revelation on Christ’s lips when
he meets his mother Mary as he carries the cross
to Calvary. Christ’s “narrow gate” of the cross leads
to a radically new way of life. It brings an
abundance of joy, a new vigor, interior peace. The
new wine of the life of grace that Christ
pours out on his followers must change not only their
way of life, but even their internal attitudes and
consciousness. As St. Teresa of Avila once put it, “A
sad saint is a bad saint.” What obstacles in
my life do I need to overcome in order to
follow Christ with greater joy and to radiate that
joy to others?
Conversation with Christ: Thank you,
Lord, for the new life you came to bring —
your own divine life of grace inside me and
each of your followers who is faithful to you.
Help me to share that joy with others. I long
to be a true apostle of your joy.
Resolution: Today I will forget about myself and seek only
to help make those around me joyful.