Somewhere in my childhood, I was brought up often believing that having fun was somehow a sin; that life was not meant to be enjoyed but to be borne and endured; that one should consciously seek out pain and suffering to be one with Christ in his passion. It took a while for me to outgrow and overcome this outlook. Now, I believe and act that life is meant to be enjoyed and lived up; that we are called to be happy, in fact for all eternity; that the purpose of life is not the pain and suffering but the growth, strength and the joy that comes after.
Still, there are many in the Church today who preach a God who demands sacrifices rather than mercy and love; that life is about avoiding hell fire by spurning the joys of life; and that our God is a God who would love to see us punished for our transgressions. When I look at Christ and listen to his words, I see a person who knows and loves to enjoy life. He said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” An abundant life is one that is full of joy and happiness. Jesus loved to feast and always enjoyed sharing a meal or a drink with friends and family. And when his disciples would fast, he told them to do it in secret and not inflict their sad or austere faces on others. He loved having children come to him and share their mirth and sense of excitement. This is the Christ I know and love to follow.
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Matthew 9:14-15