Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gospel for Jan 17, Memorial: St Anthony, Abbott

Monday, 2nd Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 2:18-22

A Discussion on Fasting

[18] Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to Him (Jesus): "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."

18-22. Using a particular case, Christ's reply tells about the connection between the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament the Bridegroom has not yet arrived; in the New Testament He is present, in the person of Christ. With Him began the Messianic Times, a new era distinct from the previous one. The Jewish fasts, therefore, together with their system of religious observances, must be seen as a way of preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah. Christ shows the difference between the spirit He has brought and that of the Judaism of His time.

This new spirit will not be something extra, added on to the old; it will bring to life the perennial teachings contained in the older Revelation. The newness of the Gospel--just like new wine--cannot fit within the molds of the Old Law.

But this passage says more: to receive Christ's new teaching people must inwardly renew themselves and throw off the straight-jacket of old routines.

19-20. Jesus describes Himself as the Bridegroom (cf. also Luke 12:35; Matthew 25:1-13; John 3:29), thereby fulfilling what the Prophets had said about the relationship between God and His people (cf. Hosea 2:18-22; Isaiah 54:5ff). The Apostles are the guests at the wedding, invited to share in the wedding feast with the Bridegroom, in the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Matthew 22:1-14).

In verse 20 Jesus announces that the Bridegroom will be taken away from them: this is the first reference He makes to His passion and death (cf. Mark 8:31; John 2:19; 3:14). The vision of joy and sorrow we see here epitomizes our human condition during our sojourn on earth.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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