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CAN THE WEDDING GUESTS FAST WHILE THE BRIDEGROOM IS WITH THEM?

Christís coming on earth, the wedding feast, is marked by the drama of the Cross but it will culminate in paschal joy.

The Gospel for Sunday, February 26, 2006
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk: 2:18-22

The entrance of eternity into time through the mystery of the Incarnation makes Christ's whole life on earth an exceptional period. The span of this life is a unique time, a time for the fullness of Revelation, in which the eternal God speaks to us in his incarnate Word through the veil of his human existence.

It is the time that will remain for ever as a normative point of reference: the time of the Gospel. All Christians recognize it as the time from which their faith begins.

It is the time of a human life that changed all human lives. Christ's live was rather short; but its intensity and value are beyond compare. We stand before the greatest wealth for human history.

An inexhaustible richness, because it is the wealth of eternity and divinity.

The span of Christ's earthly life is presented in the Gospel as the time of the wedding feast. It is a time made for spreading joy. "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast" (Mk 2:19)

Here Jesus is using a simple and evocative image. He is the bridegroom who announces his wedding feast, the wedding feast of love between God and humanity. He is the bridegroom who wants to communicate his joy. The bridegroom's friends are invited to share it by coming to the wedding feast.

However, precisely in this wedding context, Jesus announces the time when he will no longer be present: "The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day" (Mk 2:20): it is a clear reference to his sacrifice. Jesus knows that the joy will be followed by sadness. Then the disciples will "fast", that is, they will suffer as they participate in his Passion.

Christ's coming on earth, with all the joy it involves for humanity, is inseparably linked to suffering. The wedding feast is marked by the drama of the Cross but it will culminate in paschal joy.

his drama is the result of Christ's inevitable conflict with the power of evil: "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it" (Jn 1:5). The sins of all humanity play an essential part in this drama. But the failure of a certain group of his own people to recognize him was particularly distressing for Christ. Addressing the city of Jerusalem, he reproaches her: "You did not know the time of your visitation" (Lk 19:44).

The time of Christ's earthly presence was the time of God's visitation. Of course, there were those who gave a positive response, the response of faith. Before recounting Jesus' tears over the rebellious city (cf. Lk 19:41-44), Luke describes for us his "royal", "messianic" entry into Jerusalem, when "the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying: 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest'" (19:37-38). But this enthusiasm could not, in Jesus' eyes, conceal the bitter fact of being rejected by the leader of his own people and by the crowd they had incited.

Moreover, before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus had foretold his sacrifice: "For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45; cf. Mt 20:28).

The time of Christ's earthly life is thus marked by his redeeming sacrifice. It is the time of the paschal mystery of his Death and Resurrection, from which flows the salvation of the human family.

February 20, 2006

Excerpted from POPE JOHN PAUL'S, General Audience, Wednesday 17 December 1997.

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READER COMMENTS
02.20.06   Godspy says:
Christís coming on earth, the wedding feast, is marked by the drama of the Cross but it will culminate in paschal joy.

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