January 18, 2016

Gospel MK 2:18-22
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
Reflection:
In Jesus’ time, people consistently observed the religious practices of prayer, the giving of alms, and fasting.
The followers of John the Baptist, and even those of the Pharisees, regularly fasted, but those who followed Jesus did not.
The people questioned Jesus asking why His disciples did not fast.
He answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?”
Jesus was not saying His disciples should not fast. He was in effect saying, “I am here to bring you good news. Now is the time for celebration not for fasting.”
Jesus came to teach a new way of looking at and applying Scripture. His message was simple: God is not an accountant. He is not sitting with a calculator adding up our sins and our good deeds.
Jesus’ message was not delivered through the priests and religious leaders; He spoke directly to the people, “Repent, come to God. He loves you and is waiting for your return to Him.”
This message of God’s love introduced a new view of a God who was kind and generous. A God of understanding and forgiveness.
This was the “new wine” of which Jesus was speaking that could not be carried in the “old wineskin” of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
In Ecclesiastes 3, we are told, “Everything has its time.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
And so, we fast during Lent but not while we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter.
The very presence of God coming to earth in the form of Jesus Christ was a time for joy, not of sorrow.

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah.” Luke 2: 10-11