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Bible Dictionaries

1910 New Catholic Dictionary

Wedding Guests, Bridegroom And the

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Descriptive term for a short parable recorded by the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew 9; Mark 2; Luke 5). It was spoken probably on the occasion of the banquet given by Saint Matthew to Christ and His disciples along with many sinners and publicans, after his call to the Apostleship. The parable was provoked by the question of the disciples of John the Baptist and some of the scribes and Pharisees asking "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but thy disciples do not fast?" Jesus replies in a similitude, asking if the companions of the bridal-chamber, whose special task it was to provide for the merrymaking at the feast, could be expected at the same time to mourn and fast. But, Christ adds, the days shall come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from these wedding guests and then they shall fast. The meaning of the parable was quite intelligible to His hearers. The disciples of the Baptist are reminded that their master had referred to Christ as the Bridegroom, and all the questioners are taught that the time of the visible presence of Jesus among His disciples should be for them a time of rejoicing and not of mourning and fasting; but when His visible presence is withdrawn, then they shall lament and be made sorrowful and then fasting and mourning shall be consistently their portion. The Fathers of the Church interpret the image of the bridegroom and bride as referring to Christ and His Church. Some explain it tropologically: as long as the Spouse is with us we are not able to mourn; but when by sin He departs then is the time for tears and fasting. Yet others apply the words of Christ to the Holy Eucharist. The parable does not condemn the strictness of John nor does it condemn fasting. The disciples of Christ kept the fasts prescribed by the Law but they did ignore those imposed by the Pharisees. This parable does stand against the spirit of the Pharisees who esteemed too highly external works and it shows to all that a new time had come and another spirit reigned in the Kingdom. It is held up as a splendid lesson on how to argue and how to convince.

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Bibliography Information
Entry for 'Wedding Guests, Bridegroom And the'. 1910 New Catholic Dictionary. 1910.

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