Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 15:16-23; Mark 2:18-22)
In 1964 Martin Luther King, Jr. published Why We Can’t Wait. The book answers a question of the time, “Why are Blacks causing so much civil unrest?” 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. The question answered by King resembles the one posed to Jesus in today’s gospel.
The people wonder why Jesus’ followers never fast from food and drink. They point to the Pharisees’ disciples who enthusiastically do so. Jesus’ answer indicates the breath of his mission. He tells the people that the Kingdom of God is being initiated with his ministry. This in-breaking needs to be celebrated. He knows that his life will soon end; then the fasting may begin. His short life may even be considered an extended Sabbath. People should no more fast during its duration than they should be silent at a social. In this way the people can recognize his Father’s mercy like his disciples are doing.
Today the United States remembers the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a national holiday. It may seem pretentious given that he is the only person to be so celebrated annually besides Jesus on Christmas. However, the injustice which King fought was outrageous, to say nothing of the slavery which precipitated it. Taking time to consider that and to celebrate the victory over bigotry is both fitting and helpful. We might also contemplate that more than anyone else, Jesus was King’s inspiration and hope.