Friends, in today’s Gospel, disciples of John the Baptist wonder why Jesus and his disciples do not fast as John and his disciples do. It is true that, by comparison, Jesus had a freer, more worldly, less obviously “religious” style. He didn’t sequester himself like the Essenes; he didn’t insist on ritual and legal purity like the Pharisees; and, it seems, he didn’t fast and live a life of austerity like John and his followers.
And so they ask why he doesn’t encourage fasting among his followers. Jesus’ answer is wonderful: “How can the guests at a wedding fast while the groom is still with them?”
Could you imagine people fasting at a wedding banquet? Could you imagine going into an elegant room with your fellow guests and being served bread and water? It would be ridiculous!
This great image of the wedding feast comes up frequently in the New Testament, most obviously in the wedding feast at Cana narrative. That’s because Jesus is, in himself, the wedding of heaven and earth, the marriage of divinity and humanity; he is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. In him, the most intimate union is achieved between God and the world.