New From The Old

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“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 days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
(Mark 2:18-22)

Scripture Study

2:18 Pharisees Luke 18:11–12 indicates that fasting was a characteristic of the Pharisees’ piety. People came to Jesus and objected In both Jewish and Graeco-Roman culture, a teacher was held responsible for the behavior of his students (compare Mark 2:23–24). Previously, the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples to explain Jesus’ behavior (v. 16); now they ask Jesus to explain His disciples’ behavior.

2:19 fast Mourning or penitential activity would be inappropriate at a joyous occasion such as a wedding.

2:20 is taken away from them Jesus’ remark foreshadows His own future—His betrayal, arrest, and execution.

2:21 the new from the old Jesus emphasizes the change brought about by the kingdom’s arrival. While the previous analogy (vv. 19–20) contrasted present and future, this verse distinguishes between old and new.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel people ask Jesus why he doesn’t encourage fasting among his followers. Jesus’ answer is wonderful: “How can the guests at a wedding fast while the groom is still with them?” (That’s a typically Jewish style, by the way: answering a question with another question.)

This great image of the wedding feast comes up frequently in the New Testament, most obviously in the wedding feast at Cana narrative. And it is echoed in the Tradition. Jesus is the wedding of heaven and earth, the marriage of divinity and humanity; he is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. In him, the most intimate union is achieved between God and the world.

Could you imagine people fasting at a wedding banquet? Could you imagine going into an elegant room with your fellow guests and being served bread and water? It would be ridiculous! So says Jesus: “As long as the groom is with them, how could they fast?” The mark of the Christian dispensation is joy. Exuberance. Delight. God and the world have come together. What could be better news?

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.