Matthew 9: 14-15
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation)
In the Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius invites us to use our imaginations and apply our senses when meditating on scripture. Through “composition of place,” we put ourselves in the scene and trust that our senses will reveal spiritual truths our intellect alone would miss.
Put yourself in the today’s gospel story. What does the interaction between John’s disciples and Jesus look and sound like? If you were one of the questioners, would your tone be accusatory (“no fair, your disciples get off easier than we do!”)? Or respectful (they don’t go directly at Jesus for not fasting, but ask about his disciples instead)? What about Jesus—is he tired of all the questions about his ways after healing people and offering explanations numerous times before?
One thing is for sure, Jesus doesn’t represent business as usual. In our Ash Wednesday reading (Matthew 6;1–6, 16–18), Jesus tells his disciples to practice the common acts of righteousness, but to do so privately to differentiate themselves from the “hypocrites.” In today’s story, Jesus reveals that rituals and laws shouldn’t exist for their own sake. There will be a time for fasting (mourning), but not today. Today we celebrate God in our midst.
This Lent, use your imagination and senses to journey with Jesus. What do you learn about Jesus? Yourself?
—Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits. Adapted from his book, Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
Prayer of St. Ignatius
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
all I have and
call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours;
do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and grace,
that is enough for me.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola
For a printable version of this prayer from JesuitPrayer.org, click here.