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 wine skins, for the wine would burst the skins, and then both the wine and the skins would be lost. But new wine, new skins!”
Both of today’s readings focus on the idea of compromise. King Saul decided he would compromise with God’s strict orders and come up with his own watering-down of them. But the prophet Samuel would have none of that: “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” he says. In the gospel reading, we meet with the same idea. Jesus is adamant: there is no compromise possible between the Old Order of the past (symbolized here by the Pharisaic practice of fasting and John the Baptist’s similar practice) and the New Order inaugurated by Jesus. Here Jesus compares himself to mankind’s bridegroom, an image of infinite richness. When the bridegroom erupts on the human scene, he says, the time for fasting is over. Who would fast at a wedding? Between Christ and anything else, if there is compromise (we call it nowadays “inculturation of the Gospel), it must be entirely one-sided on the part of what is being “evangelized.” This means that some things (v.g. divorce, abortion, gender inequality) simply cannot combine with Christianity. This is something that many of our contemporaries find difficult to understand. Yet, a person is either married or single before the law; there is no in-between civil status…
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