by Norma Koehne
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But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them and then they will fast (Mark 2:20).
So many Jewish people at the time of Jesus and the early church found it hard to change from the old covenant with its many laws expanded by the rabbis. Jesus was often criticised for supposedly breaking these laws. For example, he healed on the Sabbath, his disciples ate corn on that day, or they did not fast as John’s disciples did. The laws of Moses had a purpose. It was to keep the Jewish nation different from the people around them, to preserve them as a holy people for the birth of the Messiah.
Here, Jesus says that the Messiah has come, and the old covenant with the Jewish nation has been completed. It is a time for the new covenant, sealed with his death for the sin of the world and his resurrection, which showed the act of salvation was complete. This is a time to rejoice with the bridegroom who created his church from all nations of the earth.
Why then, now that the bridegroom has gone to his father, do we fast? In this instance, fasting means living a life of discipline so that we, too, can remain ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness to his marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9). Thank God we have the Holy Spirit as our guide, God’s word as our sure testimony, and Jesus’ body and blood as the assurance that we are his holy people, beloved and forgiven.
Lord, although you are no longer with us bodily, we thank you that you are with us as we receive your body and blood in the sacrament, so we can rejoice in the sure knowledge that we are your forgiven and beloved children. Amen.
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