Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 2:18-22)
When the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and companions called the bus strike in Montgomery, Alabama, many African-Americans there walked to work. It was no small sacrifice since the walkers often stood on their feet all day at their jobs. Yet they were willing to make it because the strike showed their children and anyone else who cared to notice that they had dignity. One elderly lady who had participated in the strike expressed her satisfaction at day’s end. “My feet are tired,” she said, “but my soul’s at rest.” The gospel today hints at a similar satisfaction from knowing Jesus.
Fasting is a penitential practice. People fast to express sorrow for their sins. Jesus’ disciples cannot fast because he brings them joy. To fast when Jesus is present would be like sleeping when the president comes to visit. His care for all expels sorrow. His clarity provides sure direction. A time will come when Jesus’ personal presence will be missing. Then noting their shortcomings, his disciples will do penance.
Today the United States honors one of its greatest statesmen. It is not a time for regret over the sins of slavery and racism. Rather, like the disciples with Jesus at hand, we want to rejoice for having had Dr. King in our midst. In Jesus’ name he preached hope not just for African-Americans but for the world. He articulated and practiced a vision of all races, creeds, and nationalities living together in peace.