First Reading: Colossians 1:15-20
Brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the Body, the Church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the Blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 100:1B-2, 3, 4, 5
Come with joy into the presence of the Lord. Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song. Know that the LORD is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise; Give thanks to him; bless his name. For he is good, the LORD, whose kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations.
Gospel: Luke 5:33-39
The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
One of our family friends is a very holy priest who comes to our house ready to make a steak and a martini. I remember as a young teen watching him sprinkle coffee grounds on raw meat and then sip vodka out of a large martini glass while the meat cooked in our oven. He and our family would swap stories over dinner and afterwards I would sing and play for everyone.
Father Mode knew how to have a good time. However, this same priest would spend months deployed all over the world as a U.S. Navy Chaplain where a steak and a martini would be impossible to come by. On his first deployment, he spent two years in Afghanistan. On the the second day he arrived he received a dying solider in his arms, the first of his unit. Today Father Mode is the head chaplain in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He works twelve-hour days in intense heat, overseeing chaplains who minister to some of the most dangerous criminals. This assignment, by the way, he picked for himself.
On a recent trip back to states, he visited my family. While speaking with him over a large stack of homemade pancakes and bacon, I realized that his ability to both fast and feast comes from an acceptance that there are seasons for both.
Our Lord Jesus talks about the times to fast and feast in today's Gospel, and the Church calendar also gives us seasons of fasting and feasting. Life will inevitably give us these as well. My job is to be faithful regardless whether the day presents a battlefield or steaks and martinis. God wants us to soak in those moments when family, friends, and all beautiful things are with us, when the Bridegroom is present. God also wants us to remain His on the days when the Bridegroom is taken away. In those fasting days, let us cling to the words of today's Psalm, "Know that the Lord is God; his we are; his people the flock he tends." In whatever season you are in, may your soul be filled with His unwavering peace.
Where are you in your season of life? If you're feeling a fast coming on, perhaps seek out grace in the sacraments and fortify yourself spiritually. If you're feasting, remember to give thanksgiving and share the love you're experiencing.
Marie Miller is a singer/songwriter who loves to read old books, drink red wine, and spend time with her very big family. You can find out more about her here.