January 20, 2020

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 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. Fasting was prescribed by Jewish religious law. We can easily become “accustomed” to doing something simply because it is expected and everyone else is doing it. 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?” Growing up in the Catholic faith it was “expected” that a person would “fast”(give up something) during Lent. Even now, among children, it is a commonly asked question, “What did you give up for Lent?” 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….” The disciples recognized Jesus as the Anointed One, the long awaited Messiah. Understandably, they had no thoughts of fasting while He was with them for they were full of joy. Jesus was the master of the common sense answer. Who among us has ever thought of fasting during the good times, the times of celebration? Would it occur to us to fast at our son or daughter’s wedding reception? Would we fast at the party following the baptism of our child? Or, at their high school graduation? Of course not! “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.” We fast during Lent in recognition that Jesus (the bridegroom) has been taken away from us. May our fasting teach our children to fast, not because it is “expected” of them, but out of genuine sorrow that humankind rejected Our Father’s gift of His only begotten Son. “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.” The people of Jesus’ time would clearly understand His simple homespun examples that we must first let go of the old ways before we can take hold of the new. Just as we must abandon the harsh religious laws of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth before we can accept in our hearts and apply in our minds Jesus’ message to “Love one another as I have loved you.” “The old skin must be shed before the new skin can come.”  Joseph Campbell