Monday: Mark 2: 18-22
18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
19 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
20 The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.
21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.
22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins."
Today’s Gospel passage gives Jesus’ reply to the question (raised, perhaps by some Pharisees), of why Jesus’ disciples ate and drank, while they (John the Baptist’s disciples), and the Pharisees fasted and prayed. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving were three cardinal works of Jewish religious life.
Jesus responded to their sincere question using three metaphors: the metaphor of the “children of the bridal chamber,” the metaphor of patching torn cloth and the metaphor of wineskins. First, Jesus compared his disciples with the children of the bridal chamber. These were the selected friends of the bride and groom who feasted in the company of the bride and groom during a week of honeymoon. Nobody expected them to fast. Jesus assured the questioners that His disciples would fast when He, the Bridegroom, was taken away from them. In the same way, we are to welcome both the joys of Christian life and the crosses it offers us. But Joy is the chief characteristic of a Christian – joy even in tribulation. Using the comparisons of the danger of using new, unshrunken cloth to make a patch for an old garment, or old wineskins to store new, still-fermenting wine, Jesus told the questioners that they must have more elastic and open minds and larger hearts to understand and follow His new ideas which were, in many cases, different from the traditional Jewish teachings.
1) We need to be adjustable Christians with open and elastic minds and hearts. The Holy Spirit, working actively in the Church and guiding the teaching authority in the Church, enables the Church to put into practice new visions, new ideas, new adaptations and new ways of worship in place of old ones. So we should have the generosity and good will to follow the teachings of the Church. At the same time we need the Old Testament revelations, the New Testament teachings and the Sacred Tradition of the Church as main sources of our Christian faith. (Fr. Tony)