First Reading: Gn 27:1-5. 15-29; Psalm: 135 R. v. 3a; Gospel: Mt 9:14-17
NEW WINE, FRESH WINESKIN
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
Why were the disciples of John so concerned about fasting that they considered it a point of discussion to table before Jesus? Judging from our time, fasting isn’t always compulsorily demanded. But for a Jew especially during the time of Jesus, fasting was one of the three most important religious obligations to be observed at least once a week. Recall the Pharisee who went to pray in the temple and recounted that he fasted twice a week to justify he was holier than the tax collector. (Lk 18:12). So the disciples of John were really surprised that Jesus and his disciples do not fast just as they and the Pharisees do.
Jesus taught that there was time for everything. He identified himself as the bridegroom and noted that it was inappropriate to mourn and fast at a wedding feast when the bridegroom was present. The point was that Jesus wanted them to focus on him and not merely observing the law of fasting because something greater than the law was with them. It will be inconsequential therefore to practice the law when Jesus the divine teacher who supersedes the law was present to guide them towards a new and proper understanding of the law. Just as it was incompatible to patch an old garment with a new cloth; so was it inappropriate for them to judge Jesus based on the standard of their old ways. And just as an old wineskin cannot take a new wine; their old practices would have to give way for the new teachings of Jesus to take over.
It is not always easy to adapt to changes and a new way of doing things when we have been accustomed to a certain pattern of life for several years. When it pertains to religion, it can even be more disturbing and raises questions as to whether we have been wasting our time doing the wrong thing all along to the displeasure of God. But the Holy Spirit is always there to gradually lead the Church into the complete truth. In the history of the Church there have been so many developments in her teachings. This does not imply that the Church was wrong all the while. It rather means that the Church is getting better as she journeys towards perfection. What Jesus is asking of us today is to have that elasticity of mind to accommodate these changes as the Holy Spirit gradually leads the Church to the perfect will of God. New wine, fresh wineskin.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, grant us the elasticity of mind to accept and accommodate your teachings as the Spirit gradually leads us into the whole truth. Amen.