One of the great problems that many people have with living the spiritual life is that they want it on their own terms. So often, we think we know what God wants, or even worse, we want God to want what we want. And so we act according to our own desires instead of God’s, and then we’re surprised when it doesn’t work out. If we’re honest, we all struggle with this on some level from time to time in our lives.
In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees expected the disciples of Jesus to fast. But Jesus hadn’t asked for fasting, he asked his disciples to follow. The Pharisees couldn’t see that, and they complained about the actions of Jesus’ disciples rather than focusing on their own spiritual lives and what God wanted from them. They wanted everyone to be religious in the same way they were, including, quite frankly, God himself.
Juxtaposed against this is the description of Jesus as a servant in the letter to the Hebrews. Jesus is the Son of God who could have insisted on his glory and expected everyone to fall into line or be damned. But that was not the Father’s will, and so for him, that is not his will either. Instead, he suffered, learned obedience, and became the source of salvation for all of us.
We are all asked by God to do something all the time. It’s not up to us to decide what God wants or how he wants us to do it. Our task as disciples is to follow, to obey the Lord. Because that’s the only way we’re ever going to triumph over sin and death, the only way that we will ever be truly happy, the only way that we will find our salvation.