Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Matthew 9:15)
A year can make a great difference. A year ago this week, it rained and didn’t snow.
Also: Anybody remember what we mourned during the week of Ash Wednesday 2013? The fact that we had to face losing our pope. Pope Benedict announced his resignation during the week of Ash Wednesday last year.
This year we keep the beginning of Lent as a celebration of the first anniversary of the Lord giving us Pope Francis. Next Thursday: first anniversary of Francis on the loggia.
So, the gospel for the Friday after Ash Wednesday just keeps resonating for us: Last year, the Pope was taken away. The Vicar of Christ was taken away. This year, our beloved Holy Father keeps the season of Lent very much with us, alongside us.
Therefore: Yes, we fast. The Church fasts. The Pope fasts. We all fast. Because we still languish a long way away from the wedding banquet we seek to enter.
But we also rejoice, because the Lord has given us such a wonderful father as Pope Francis. Long may he continue to keep shepherding us toward the Lord.