[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.”] (Mt. 9:14-15)
On this first Friday of Lent, Jesus points out to us the benefits of fasting. One benefit is it grows our desire for something. Jesus’s disciples do not fast when He is with them because He is already present to them. Jesus notes that they will fast when He is taken away from them. The disciples’ desire for Jesus will grow as they fast.
So too do even our smallest acts of fasting increase our desires. Take for example fasting from meat on Fridays during Lent. I for one can’t wait until Saturday so I can eat a cheeseburger or a steak. Similarly if it’s been awhile since we’ve visited with a good friend or a family member. The time spent apart grows our desire to be with that person.
Jesus’s words today remind us that even more than a desire to eat meat or reconnect with friends and family, our practices of fasting are meant to increase our desire for Him. During Lent we enlarge our desire for Jesus Who is the deepest longing of our heart. Jesus’s words ring true at Easter when we will no longer fast because of the Bridegroom’s return.
“Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?”