Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (9: 14-15) in which John the Baptist’s disciples asked Jesus, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” and Jesus answered… ‘The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast’. Fr Paul says this Gospel reading at first sight seems a puzzling choice for the beginning of Lent, for it is kind of ruling out fasting (one of the three good works). The Pharisees, who observed the Law very strictly, fasted regularly, but Jesus’ disciples did not. Hence the question ‘Why not? Does not every seriously religious person fast?’ Jesus then introduces them to the wonderful image of the wedding feast. Right the way throughout the Old Testament the prophets had likened the last times, when God would finally come to his people and set everything right, to a wedding-feast, the completion of the wedding of God and his people. Now, when Jesus has come, is the time of that wedding feast, an image which Jesus uses in so many of his parables.  Fr Paul invites us to notice the language here and says there is something we often miss. We hear the words ‘When the bridegroom is taken away’. That does not happen at a wedding feast. A bridegroom will eventually go away, but not ‘be taken’. From the very beginning of the Gospel (and in Mark this occurs in the first confrontation with the Pharisees) we are being warned that this bridegroom’s path will not be smooth and comfortable.  Fr Paul notes today’s Gospel Lesson – the path of Lent, which we walk with Jesus, is not meant to be smooth and easy.