Mar 2:19 Can the children of the bride chamber fast

Mar 2:19 Can the children of the bride chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
Alternative: Is the wedding party strong enough to diet when the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they are not capable of going on a diet.

Fasting is a form of penance, a way of making up for past sins. Even in our secular age, dieting is a form of penance. Eating, of course, is a form of celebration. In Christ's use of symbols, a wedding feast is the only symbol for celebration. It is also one of his analogies for the kingdom of heaven.

In an earlier post on the analogous verse in Matthew, I wondered who the bride to Christ's bridegroom was. After going through all of Christ's words in Matthew, I find myself thinking that Christ's real bride was life, existence, and self-awareness. The good news that Christ brought is that human death is an illusion, that we are really eternal creatures, and the burdens and mistakes of this life are only temporary. This life is meaningful because it affects our eternal life, but this life is not all that there is. This is good news indeed.

This theme of happiness and joy is of course the traditional Christian theme of the Christmas season, but it seems somewhat muted in much of the Gospel because of the emphasis in translation of the Gospels is sin, evil, and repentance. Yet, in reading the Greek, such harsh language is never used. Christ talks about mistakes, burdens, and turning around. The language of the Gospel writers uses the classical Greek words for evil rarely.

As the scribes and Pharisees of Christ's own time, too often today's religious leaders find their own interests rooted in creating fear rather than joy among believers. This means emphasizing the laws and obedience to the rules. Christ didn't have much patience for this line in the religious leaders of his own time. It is hard to believe that he would judge today's religious leaders any less harshly for their focus on sin, evil, repentance, and obedience rather than joy and loving one another. The English translation of the Gospels is, of course, heavily influenced by the traditional religious viewpoint that Christ is criticizing.

Christ announced his mission as wanting us to believe that there is a reward for bringing good news. We are here reminded that his role as a healer and, in Mark thus far, his healing of the possessed man, the leper, and the paralytic are occasions for happiness not sorrow. Christ's telling the paralyzed man that he has been freed from his errors is also an occasion for celebration.

Seen from another point of view, all of Christ's acts thus far in Mark are designed to demonstrate that the burdens of this life, even the errors we make, are purely temporary. We are given life to make the most of it. While we cannot do that if we continue to make errors, the idea is to turn around and leave our errors behind, to live in a new way, an way that is eternally meaningful and not meaningful only in terms of this life.

"Can" is from the verb, dunamai (dunamai) which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

"Bridechamber" is from numphôn (numphon), which means "bridechamber" and refers to the temply of Dionysus and a word related to what is sacred to nymphs.

"Bridegroom" is from numphios (numphios ), which means "bridegroom" and "son-in-law."

"Fast" is from nêsteuô (nesteuo), which means "fast" and "to abstain from."

Categories: