“Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”

A very short excerpt from the gospels (Mt 9:14-15) has Jesus being confronted by John the Baptist’s disciples regarding Jesus’ followers lack of fasting.  Jesus starts with the line above and tells them that His disciples will fast when He is taken away.  We are fortunate that Christ is always with us.  Aside from a relationship we should be cultivating through prayer, we also get to hear Him through Scripture whenever we wish.  Most uniquely and specially, He is available to us in the gift of the Eucharist, His presence par excellence.  A day should not go by when we don’t at least engage in prayer and prayerful reading.  If it’s feasible, even if it requires extra effort, daily Mass attendance (or at least listening to it or watching it) is a great blessing.  These encounters lift us up, strengthen us, and give us a reason for joy.  This is true even when bad things happen, suffering is heaped upon suffering, or dryness (a lack of a sensible presence of God) or emptiness pervades us.  Consider the constant joy and positivity of two recent examples of holiness: Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.  The former, known for her beautiful smile in the midst of the most terrible poverty and suffering and, as we found out after her death, decades of feeling abandoned by God.  The latter, suffering debilitating illness but always with an uplifting word and unforgettable example.  Whatever their state, they remained close to the Lord.  While they may have been saddened by certain states of affairs, they saw Christ in every circumstance.  This is also a key for us.  Aside from prayer, Scripture, and Eucharist, we must find Jesus in everyone we encounter.  His countenance may be marred, but He is there.  “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).  Let us turn mourning into joy! (cf. Jer 31:13)

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