Then the disciples of John came to him with the question,
How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not your disciples?
Jesus answered them,
How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The time will come, when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Criticizing someone because that person does not conform to certain expectations happens everyday. In today’s gospel, the issue on fasting was yet another thing the people found to criticize Jesus. Like John’s disciples, we have a tendency to interpret certain pious practices in a bigoted way. Fasting is often seen from the narrow view of not eating or drinking, yet there is more to it than that. Jesus challenges us to see the bigger picture, that there is a time for fasting and for feasting. To be with Jesus is a time of feasting as in a wedding celebration when everyone shares in the joy of the new couple. But there is also a time when Jesus’ followers must fast as they bear the crucible of humiliation and cleansing in their discipleship. Fasting and feasting are part of one continuum. Often in practicing our Christian faith we fail to give witness to the joy of being loved and forgiven by God. The disciples who accompanied Jesus were feasting in the love given them by Jesus while at the same time fasting from being self-righteous and critical. Can we feast as beloved sinners and fast from being critical towards others?
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