Gospel: Mk 2:18-22
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!“
“The Gospel of Joy: In the Presence of the Bridegroom“
We begin this Monday with a disturbing comparison between John the Baptist and Jesus on the question of Fasting. The Pharisees are scandalized that Jesus and his disciples were not fasting like pious Jews and like the disciples of John the Baptist.
Jesus answers with two images: (1) the Wedding Banquet and (2) new wine in new wine skins. In the first image Jesus calls himself the Bridegroom celebrating his Wedding Banquet with his friends. It is not the time for fasting but celebration. Yet, Jesus does continue, and say that there will eventually be time for fasting too–when the Bridegroom would no longer be around. Then will his disciples fast, as once again they will await the return–the second coming–of the Bridegroom!
The Holy Mass we celebrate is now referred to as the Wedding Banquet. And so we are not glum but joyful! As Pope Francis tells us, Christians are filled with the joy of the Gospel. Yet we do not forget that we are looking forward also to the second coming of Jesus and so we do fast at appointed times in our liturgical year.
The second image, the new wine in new wine skins, will become clearer in our subsequent readings this week.