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January 21, 2019

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book PNG2112Gospel: Mark 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!”

“How can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?”
John the Baptist was famous— both among his disciples and his enemies—for his asceticism and self­denial. He dressed in animal skins and lived on a diet of honey and locusts. For many people that is the standard by which to recog­nize a holy man of God.How is it that Jesus and his followers set such a different example—not only eating and drinking, but attending wedding feasts and dining with sinners and tax collectors? Jesus himself compares his entourage to a wed­ding party, with himself in the role of bridegroom. It suggests a kind of joyous festivity that surrounded him, and it goes some way to explaining why so many felt drawn to follow. As Pope Fran­cis says, there are Christians who seem to live in an endless Lent without Easter. Jesus represents “new wine,” which can’t simply be poured into old frameworks and ways of thinking.There is a time for mourning. But religious practice that is ex­pressed entirely in  penitence and sadness would seem to miss out on the joy of the Good News! As Julian of Norwich, an English mystic, exclaimed, “The worst has already happened and been re­ paired!”

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