Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t?
Just do it! This is a slogan that youngsters love! If you enjoy doing something, just do it. But the real question is, whether we enjoy doing the right thing? Or do we grumble about it?
Why did the disciples of John have to worry so much about whether Jesus’ disciples were fasting or not? If they were happy to fast, they should do it, even if others did not. We often do not enjoy doing the right thing. We take it as a burden and are looking for excuses not to do it. When we find another person not working, we ask why we should work. When we pray, we are worried about why others are not praying. We do good, out of some sort of compulsion, whether it is social, or internal. But we eat, even if others don’t! We do not ask why we should eat, while others don’t! That is because we enjoy eating.
There was a monk who never missed his prayers. At the end of the year, he submitted to his Abbot a complete list of other monks who were absent for prayers, and how many times! Was that to prove oneself superior, or was it a question about why he should pray while others ‘enjoyed’ their lives, taking it easy!
It needs courage to do the right thing when others are not doing it. In the same way, it needs extraordinary courage to avoid the wrong things, when everyone else is doing it! The demand to conform and the pressure of the peer group can be intimidating. The audacity to stand alone needs some nerve. This applies from simple things like not crossing the red signal in the traffic while others are doing it, to refusing to drink when your peers are guzzling on beer.
It is not just the courage to stand alone as mere bravado. It is also the joy in doing the right thing. It is the right thing that finally brings us joy. This courage and joy are grace – free gifts from God.