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.” Matthew 9: 14-15
ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS
In this Gospel account, Jesus tells his disciples that there cannot be union between two different things: His presence and the disciples’ mourning. St. John of the Cross also teaches the same that two contrary things cannot abide in the same person, for example, the joy of Christ’s presence and doing things for one’s own satisfaction.
“No creature, none of its actions and abilities, can reach or encompass God’s nature. Consequently, a soul must strip itself of everything pertaining to creatures and of its actions and abilities (of its understanding, satisfaction, and feeling), so that when everything unlike and unconformed to God is cast out, it may receive the likeness of God. And the soul will receive this likeness because nothing contrary to the will of God will be left in it. Thus it will be transformed in God” (A 2.5.4b).
We live in a world where we can have our cake and eat it too. We find every inconvenience a nuisance and every difficulty an obstacle to be removed. Both Jesus and John of the Cross know that this attitude blinds us to the true state of affairs. Jesus knows that you cannot fast when you are happy; and John of the Cross knows that no created person, place, or thing is equal to God. They may for a time serve the purpose of finding God, once God is found we must detach from that person, place, or thing. May their teaching on the incompatibility of having our desires for people, places, and things, and having them apart from God, lead us to see the truth with new eyes during the Season of Lent.
Lord, God, you call us through the Season of Lent to undergo a change of heart through fasting. Grant, we ask, that as we work with you to free ourselves of all that is contrary to the Spirit of your Son, we may be ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit in new wineskins when he comes upon us at Pentecost. We asked this through Christ, your Son, Amen.
We invite you to add your reflections and prayers in the comments section below.
Adapted from A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. John of the Cross by Fr. George Mangiaracina O.C.D.