New Wine

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.
No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth,
for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse.
People do not put new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined.
Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”(Matthew 9:14-17)

Scripture Study

9:14–17 The disciples of John the Baptist continue as a group after their master’s imprisonment (4:12). Given John’s commitment to an ascetic way of life (3:4) that included fasting (11:18), they perhaps look with suspicion on Jesus’ disciples for feasting with sinners and tax collectors (9:10), and question whether they are truly committed to pursuing righteousness.

In response, Jesus describes himself as a bridegroom, thus applying to himself an Old Testament image for God in his relationship to Israel (Isa 62:4–5). A wedding feast is a very joyous occasion, and the mournful tone of fasting would not be fitting as long as the bridegroom is with them. In the future Christ’s disciples will fast, when the bridegroom is taken away from them. This is Christ’s first hint of his passion, echoing Isa 53:8.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel, people ask Jesus why he and his disciples do not fast when John and his disciples do. Jesus’ answer is wonderful: “How can the guests at a wedding fast while the groom is still with them?” Could you imagine people fasting at a wedding banquet? It would be ridiculous!

Jesus also says, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins….” The new wine is the Gospel. The receptacle for this wine must be conformed to it, not the other way around.

To take in the Good News, we can’t be living in the cramped space of our sinful souls. We can’t have an “expect the worst” attitude. Instead, we repent, or change the minds that we have. Another way to get at this is to say that like is known by like. If God is love, then only a soul that is on fire with love will properly take him in.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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