“Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to 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. And no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into new wineskins, and so both are preserved.’” (Mt 9: 14-17)
As we complete the first week of the Apostles Fast, I’m thinking about those early times, when the Apostles themselves did not fast. They were still “new” to Christ, as He was “new” to them, so they were experiencing a sort of “honeymoon,” if you will, during which fasting and the “mourning” that goes with it were inappropriate. But what, one might ask, does “mourning” have to do with fasting?
Fasting and mourning are a part of any truly-loving relationship, after “the honeymoon” is over. Because love grows, when we are willing to let it grow. And this involves “growing pains,” like the discovery of the other’s boundaries, as well as our own difficulties and shortcomings in maintaining those boundaries. We begin to take note of our trespasses against the other’s boundaries, “mourning” them in continuous “repentance” (a continuous, attentive re-focusing or “change of mind), and we gradually learn a proper abstinence, in which “fasting” is an exercise. The “bridegroom” as we knew him in the first phase of our love “is taken away from us,” as we willingly, painfully grow into more mature, self-offering love. Lord, bless us and help us this Apostles Fast, that we may grow in love for You and others, in You.