Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 15:16-23; Mark 2:18-22)
Fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. published Why We Can’t Wait. People were asking at the time, “Do Negros have to take to the streets and cause civil unrest?” Other wondered, “Why can’t they just wait for the nation to see the justice of their cause?” Echoing Abraham Lincoln, Dr. King replied that no man or woman can exist half slave and half free. Such a condition thwarts the mind and kills the soul. King’s position resembles Jesus’ defense of his disciples in today’s gospel.
The people question Jesus about his followers’ never refraining from food and drink. They point to other teachers of the time whose disciples vigorously did so. But, as in so many other ways, Jesus differs from other teachers in his consideration of fasting. He recognizes that his time with the people is limited and that he must celebrate with them God’s mercy. His short life may even be considered an extended Sabbath during which people should no more fast than they should be silent at a social. He urgently wants all to know and appreciate his gracious Father like his disciples are doing.
Today the United States remembers the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a national holiday. It may seem somewhat exaggerated given that he is the only person to be so celebrated annually besides Jesus on Christmas. However, the injustice against which King effectively contended was so outrageous that it is fitting that the nation takes a timeout to consider. While we are at it, we might also contemplate that more than anyone else, Jesus was King’s source of inspiration and eternal hope.