A cause for Joy

Friends in the Lord, today in the gospel, we see that people are complaining that Jesus’ disciples are not fasting. Our Lord’s response is interesting: ‘Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?, he asks.
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William Barclay tells us that at the time of Our Lord, there was actually a rabbinic law that said, at the time of marriages, those in attendance on the bridegroom were forbidden from any fasting. As we’ve said before, Christ is the Bridegroom, and it is to this that Jesus refers. We can see that Our Lord shows us, that although there are times for fasting – such as Lent – life with Christ is a life of joy. Our daily encounter with our Savior should be enough to light our way with great happiness.
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There was a Japanese criminal named Tockichi Ishii. He was a ruthless, beast-like thug. He had viciously murdered many men and women in his criminal life; the day came when an innocent man was about to be mistakenly hanged for a crime Ishii had done. Surprisingly, Ishii confessed that he had done it, and he was therefore himself sentenced to death. He would later say that he confessed because he felt that it was the only way he could find peace.
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Now it happened that as he was awaiting death, two Canadian ladies visited him in prison. He would not speak to them, but they gave him a copy of the Holy Scriptures, hoping that he might read. He did. And there he read about another Man who was sentenced to death, and though innocent, was brutally crucified on behalf of sinners. This story changed him.
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He immediately began to write a journal as quickly as he could before his execution, singing the joys of finding the mercy of Christ. 182 pages. It is one of the most famous stories in all of Japan that is still read today.
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When the jailer went to bring him for execution he found not a hardened, offensive brute, but a smiling, radiant man; Ishii the murderer had discovered the love of Christ.
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Jesus did not come to save us from a temporal death, but he did come to save us from eternal death. And for us, that should daily, be a cause for joy.

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