Friday, February 19, 2010

A Christian's 'realistic' joy (Friday after Ash Wednesday, Matt. 9:14-15)

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.”

* * * * * * * * *

When Jesus was asked why he and his disciples did not practice fasting, he answered with a vivid picture. A wedding is always a time of special festivity.

So Jesus compares himself to the bridegroom and his disciples to the bridegroom's closest friends. How could a company like that be sad and grim? A wedding is not a time for fasting, but for the rejoicing. But Jesus does tell us two things in the gospel:

He tells us that to be his follower is to know the real meaning of joy. There’s simply no room for a gloomy kind of Christianity for a true disciple.

Together with this assurance, however, there is also a reminder about the reality of life.

“When the bridegroom is taken away, then they will fast”, Jesus says. He was being realistic. There is sadness and pain in life, and being Christ’s follower does not guarantee that we will never experience disappointment and suffering.

But what it does guarantee is that nothing in life, not even pain and suffering can take away the happiness that faith in Christ brings.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)