One day, when the Pharisees and the disciples of John the Baptist were fasting, some people asked Jesus, “Why is it that both the Pharisees and the disciples of John fast, but yours do not?” Jesus answered, “How 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 day will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
No one sews a piece of new cloth on an old coat, because the new patch will shrink and tear away from the old cloth, making a worse tear. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins, for the wine would burst the skins, and then both the wine and the skins would be lost. But new wine, new skins!”
The Gospel invites us to reflect on three images that illustrate the good news that Jesus offers. These are (1) bridegroom and wedding guests, (2) old garment and new patch, and (3) old wineskins and new wine. The common thread that connects these images is that of newness and joy. At a wedding the cause of joy is not the food or the guests. It is the happy couple embarking on a new life together. Everyone present share in the joy of the new couple. The Gospel uses the image of a wedding to symbolize the good news that Jesus brings, a promise of life in abundance. Joy is the natural response to such good news. The new dispensation of God’s reign that Jesus inaugurates challenges our old ways of thinking and living, which at times can tend to be legalistic, close-minded, and rigid. These tendencies do not fit the new way of life and relating that Jesus presents to us, like a new patch on an old garment or new wine on old wineskins. Rigidity and close-mindedness can kill the joy that the Gospel brings and stunt the growth of our spiritual life.
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