“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.” (Matthew 9:15)
Jesus’ disciples were accused of impiety on the basis of their apparent failure to fast. There are two possible scenarios here; one, the disciples of Jesus were fasting but not showing it. Jesus instructed in the Sermon on the Mount: “When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret.” (Matthew 6:17-18).
The second possibility was that they were not fasting. Jesus did not say whether fasting is good or bad. All that Jesus had to say about fasting points to the words of the book of Ecclesiastes: “For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; … a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).
For Jesus, that wasn’t the right time to fast. Not that there was anything wrong with fasting but that everything, no matter how good, has its season. New wine is good, old wine is also good. Some prefer old wine, and some will rather take fresh wine. But then, there is a type of bag (season) for old wine and a different bag for new wine. There is a timing for everything.
When the time is not right, no matter the efforts we put into a particular venture, it will not just work. We even run the risk of losing both wine and skin. In today’s first reading, Amos prophesied about a time of restoration for the Israelite Nation. This restoration was not to take place until hundreds of years later when God eventually gave the world the gift of His Son Jesus Christ.
We need to understand that the God we serve is a great planner. Whatever He intends to do is in His special calendar. So when we pray, let us never forget to include the phrase: “Your will be done.” This implies: “according to your own timing,” “whenever and however it suits your plan.”
There are a lot of things I would have loved to do even in spreading the message of God further but in the last few days I have had to ask myself: “am I running faster than God?” Maybe, the time isn’t right. Maybe that which looks like something good right now may just be new wine that I am trying to pour into an old wine skin. Today’s message seems like a personal note to me to cool down and let things just take their course. If the guests cannot fast now, the time will come when the guests will have no choice but to fast.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, teach me patience and increase my understanding of timing from your angle. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Bible Study: Amos 9:11-15, Ps. 85: 9,11-14, Matthew 9:14-17)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu