Questioning with an Open heart

– Friday after Ash Wednesday –

‘Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”’  [Matthew 9:14-15]

The way forward often begins with a question.

Interestingly, the question in today’s text has come from the disciples of John the Baptist. We can forget that John had disciples and that the arrival of Jesus would cause them confusion. After all, they had come to place their hope in John and were now having to reassess their situation. John could only take them so far, and now Jesus has arrived to take them further.

But they weren’t going to go with Jesus without having their questions answered. Who can blame them? So often, we can feel as if our questions (which themselves arise from our experience) are not important. How often are we left feeling that our questions about our faith do not matter, simply because the person we address the question to isn’t experienced enough to answer it?

Of course, the intention behind our questions needs consideration. Some questions are asked simply to make a point or to seek to undermine the one they are addressed to. These are the point-scoring questions and are best ignored. They are the types of questions that the gospels often ascribe to the Pharisees.

Life-giving questions are genuine, representing a deep desire to find the way forward as the person seeks to respond more and more deeply to God. This is the sort of question that the disciples of John the Baptist ask today. At its heart is their more profound question – is Jesus the one they have been waiting for?

Returning to Pope Francis’ 2014 Ash Wednesday homily, we read: “Fasting makes sense if it questions our security, and if it also leads to some benefit for others…Fasting helps us to attune our hearts to the essential…Keep focussed on the essentials.”


by Shane Dwyer

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