Sunday 6 December 2015

Monday of 2nd week, even numbered year Lundi de la 2e semaine,année paire

"Surely the bridegroom’s attendants cannot fast while the bridegroom is still with them?’ said Jesus.

1 S.15,16-23 Ps.49 Mk.2,18-22

Monday of 2nd week, even numbered year

“John’s disciples and the Pharisees were keeping a fast, when some people came to him and said to him, ’Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied ’Surely the bridegroom’s attendants cannot fast while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.’”

Apart from the fasts prescribed by God on the Day of Expiation, the Jews practiced other fast days : public ones and private ones. Expressions of mourning; penitence, purification, the preparation for a feast or a mission, a petition of a grace from God. Pious Jews considered fasting as a proper act of virtue of their religion, one that was pleasing to God : the one who fasts comes towards God in an attitude of humility, asking him forgiveness, doing without things which would distance him from God by way of the satisfaction it would bring.

Jesus accomplished amazing things : healing the sick, bringing the dead back to life, having a good time during meals, welcoming sinners. This attitude shows the Pharisees.

In his great Love, Jesus brings his people into the way of Love which deeply harmonises word and actions. He shows a whole new way of serving God. The gospel makes us aware in this way that ’Jesus’ religion’ is an entirely new one. A whole new love emanates from Jesus, who seduces his disciples giving them a whole new freedom. Jesus shows that he is the Bridegroom in the midst of his people. In Cana he changed a large quantity of water into wine ! Mary his mother was there. Jesus the Unique Bridegroom was there. Everyone could drink from this miraculous wine without being bothered, hospitality and joy shone forth in a whole new way. The loving links that Jesus weaves between humans and God’s heart are links that come from a whole New Love.

“But the time will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast.”

Jesus is astonishingly free, he deepens the response to the question that is asked to him. His disciples will have to undergo Jesus being taken away from

them on the Cross. It will be a new fast. Receiving this new Love, we can give ourselves to go from whom we receive our being, life. In God we live and move and have our being. We have a new generosity and a whole new gift drawn from God’s Mystery. ’The Father so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ The Son does as the Father does, He gives his Life so that we may have life.

The Holy Spirit is given to us so that as we follow Jesus we get rid of ourselves. This new fast, like a new wine, cannot bear the old wine skins of a religion lived on the outside. As Jesus loved us right to the end, we must enter into this Love and love following Him right to the end. We might believe that it is marvellously easy to do, that there wouldn’t be any fast, no more constraints! But when we follow Jesus we betroth his Cross yet we have a hard time living at the rhythm of this new Love. Jesu and Mary are models of these new relationships which God has come to instigate in humanity.

“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak ; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine in old wineskins ; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine into fresh skins!”

The Church has remained faithful to this teaching of the prophets and Jesus brings a new meaning to it. He fasts in the desert at the beginning of his public life, he tells us that prayer is made stronger with fasting. Most of those who would follow Jesus were probably poor people with sewn up clothes ; there must have been wine makers who knew what would happen if you put new wine into old wine skins. Jesus reminds us that we need to receive his message with a new spirit. According to the expression of Isaiah He is the Bridegroom and he is the manifestation of Divine Love to mankind. Jesus makes a declaration of his divinity, he calls his disciples ’friends of the wedding feast’, those who are with Him, and so who are not in need of fasting ,for they are not separated from Him. So we need to clothe Christ again, clothing ourselves with the wedding garment.

These links are so strong that all bearings are lost outside of this link of Love, with this unique desire to do nothing but the Will of God in all things.

Jesus has seduced my heart, I am going to give myself to Him with Joy. But if the ’Sun’ is hidden and if obscurity spreads, we fear it will be taken away! The Song of Songs has already shown this : ’You have seduced me, you have

wounded my heart, I seek you but find you not!’ Here is the new fasting when on that day the Bridegroom will be taken away, they will fast. It is a fast that purifies. It is efficient in another way than all those which would fill us with pride. Here we are, weakened, dependant, reduced to a great poverty and a cry of waiting. We can, with the Holy Sprit, cry out: ’Come! Come lord Jesus!’

We ask for the grace to remain in this Heart of God so that we can benefit from this new Love and live from it in our daily lives.