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Luke 5:33-39

The Word of God

Then the Pharisees and the scribes said to Jesus, "John's disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink. Jesus said to them, "You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days." He also told them a parable: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, 'The old is good.'"

Luke 5:33-39
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    • Here we can see a glimpse of the promise by Jesus of eternal life. Jesus gives us these contrasts – between old and new wine, between old and new garments – and this helps us to understand that the future will not be the same as the present.
    • To achieve eternal life in the presence of Jesus, we must be prepared to change our ways – we must prepare for the choices ahead of us. Do I make time in my busy day to be grateful for the presence of God in my life?
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    • Venerable Fulton Sheen once said:”there are only two philosophies of life. First the fast and then the feast or first the feast and then the hangover! We take our pick.
    • In heaven there will be no more fasting, only feasting. Jesus implied in his response to the Pharisees that his disciples were not fasting because they were already virtually in heaven as they were living on a daily basis in his presence. However, this was only temporary and in less than three years he would leave them to go to prepare a permanent place for them in eternity. Once that happened they would fast like everyone else .During this time we have the opportunity of working up an appetite for the eternal banquet of heaven.
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    • In Matthew (9:14) the disciples of John the Baptist put the question about fasting and in Mark (2: 18) ‘people’ do so. The incident is in the context of the meal following the Call of Levi (Mathew) at which there were ‘tax collectors and sinners’ which drew disapproving comments from the pharisees and scribes. So, the question is critical, but it is not positively hostile hence the vagueness about who asked it.
    • More to our point is the response of Jesus; he identifies himself with the ‘Bridegroom’ a figure which symbolized God and the nuptial relationship symbolized the union of God and his chosen people. Jesus in applying this symbol to himself lays claim to be on a level with God. In Jesus God is united to his people and is the new wine that brings the joy to all and so perfects the old law and in doing so replaces it.
    • I suggest that having reflected on the beauty of the two dominant symbols, one prays in thanksgiving for the closeness of God, the freshness of his message -ever ancient ever new – and the wonder of God becoming human.
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    • The Pharisees had reason to be unhappy as they spent a lot of time looking out. I notice the discontent that comes from noticing what is missing or looking at others. Jesus, help me to grow in awareness of your presence, to count my blessings instead of the deficiencies of others.
    • Jesus’ eyes were always open to notice, his heart open to appreciate; even everyday realities like clothing and packaging, spoke to him and had prompted wise insight. I pray that I may open my eyes and heart, learn from my world and grow in appreciation of God’s presence and action.
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    • The Gospel today speaks to us about doing the right thing at the right time. People can fast for various reasons, for example weight loss or being addicted to chocolate or other luxuries. Fasting for spiritual reasons is well recognised as a means of growing in awareness of our weaknesses and of helping us to overcome them, so that we are freer in our lives.
    • Sometimes we try to ‘patch up’ our lives with half efforts when a deeper change is really required. Prayer is wonderful for letting God communicate with you regarding change in your life when it is required. God can do more in us than we can ask or imagine – let Him direct you – listen to Him – He can be trusted.
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    • Many of us lament that that the Jews and Christians, religious cousins, have had such a poor relationship with such dreadful consequences. The old wineskins of the old Testament did not manage to accommodate the new wine of Jesus’s message.
    • How often do I pray for a reconciliation of the two faiths? Do I take steps to understand and work for greater harmony between them? Do I try to see the situation from the Jewish point of view? Speak to the Lord about this.
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    • The little word new comes up seven times in this passage. Jesus is trying to get the Pharisees and scribes to see that, with his coming, everything is now new, different. Newness is a quality that God brings to our lives. Each year is a new year of grace, every day is a new day, different from yesterday.
    • The ‘daily bread’ we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer is fresh bread, baked today. The decisions we make today give a new shape to our lives. And this encounter which I am now having with God through Sacred Space is a new one: it has never taken place before. So let me enjoy it to the full, and look forward to the next encounter!
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    • The disciples did what people often do: they made comparisons. Jesus invites them not to look out but to look in and to notice their own attitudes. He does not want them – or us – to be a patchwork of mismatched patterns and practices. He invites us to be made anew, to let go of anything that might hold us back or impair our ability to receive the good news.
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    • Each dawn announces the birth of a new day. A day of gift, a day for sharing bread, a day to receive the bread of life from the Lord. All is made new by God who meets us where we are. God shares in the good things that happen us. From him comes everything that is good in life.
    • Jesus is always with us, if only we can see. ‘Day by day, day by day, O dear Lord, three things I pray: To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly, day by day’ (Godspell).
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    • Fasting has its place, but not during a wedding celebration. The religion of the Pharisees and Scribes was anxiety ridden, full of doom and gloom. Jesus invites his hearers to celebrate the joy of what God is doing for humankind. Shrivelled wineskins can never hold the abundance of this joy-filled message.
    • Lord, our Church is sorely in need of new wineskins. Grant me an elasticity of heart and mind, so that I can be ever open to the freshness and power of your word. Today, as I ponder what you say to me, may I cry out with joy to you and serve you with gladness
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    • The Pharisees saw different ways of living and made comparisons; Jesus simply sought life.
    • Jesus saw the ordinary things of the world – torn clothes, spilt wine - and recognised how God is at work in us. How might I look more closely at the bits and pieces of my everyday?
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    • Jesus did not want to cut his disciples off from the world. He did not want them to dissociate themselves from the people and form closed communities with a strict moral code. He sent his disciples out into the world. Peter and the other apostles took their wives with them when they went to preach the Gospel
    • Jesus has come to bring something radically new to the people he met. He would offer a new understanding of their religion. He would refer back to times past, but move onto the future, even though it meant parting company with the Baptist and his disciples. Many of his words and actions were to bring something new into the lives of his people. Prayer is opening ourselves to the love and the challenge of the gospel of Jesus which is new every day.
    • ‘Live in the present’ seems to be the message of Jesus here. Celebrate the presence of the Lord - one day we will mark his absence. He seems to be against the gloomy face of religion. Our faith gives us so much to be grateful for - maybe in prayer you might mention what are the gifts helps to life your faith gives you. We fast only to appreciate these gifts more. Even our fasting is to be cheerful.