January 19, 2015

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.”
I’ve always loved old sayings. They could well be called ‘wisdom sayings’ because they are usually founded upon lessons learned from the living of life.
Today’s gospel brings to mind the old saying, “Don’t be stuck in the mud.” The Pharisees were stuck in the mud of their own traditions, in this case, fasting.
Religious sacrifices to God, offered with sincerity, are certainly an acceptable form of worship, but we have no right to impose our views on others. An attitude of “our way is the right way and any other way is wrong” immediately results in divisiveness.
In replying to the Pharisees criticism of the disciples of Jesus not fasting, our Lord, in effect, says: Why would my followers fast at this time? They are filled with the Spirit of God and their life and their message is one of great joy. There will be time enough for fasting once I’m no longer with them.
The Pharisees were so ‘stuck in the mud’ of their tradition that they had “no eyes to see” a faith based on rejoicing in the unconditional love and forgiveness of God.
“Inclusiveness” is the foundation of any successful community. When an organization or religion develops a “my way or the highway” approach to community building, it will soon shrink into a group of exclusive thinkers.
My Brother’s Keeper includes people from many faiths, denominations and walks of life. Our message is the same for everyone, “Come as you are and join us in our mission to bring the love and hope of Jesus Christ to those we serve.”