Fr Paul Gooley reads today’s Gospel from Matthew (9: 14-15) in which John the Baptist’s disciples asked Jesus, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’. Fr Paul says the Gospel reading seems at first sight a puzzling choice for the start of Lent, for it actually rules out fasting. The Pharisees, who observed the Law very strictly, fasted regularly, but Jesus’ disciples did not. ‘Why not?’ they ask, with the implication, ‘Does not every seriously religious person fast?’ Jesus then introduces the wonderful image of the wedding-feast. Right the way through 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, it is the time of that wedding feast, a figure which Jesus uses in so many of his parables. But notice that there is something wrong. ‘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 invites us to consider today’s Gospel Lesson – the path of Lent is not meant to be smooth and easy.