(Mt 9: 14-17)
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.”
John’s disciples were puzzled by the fact that Jesus and His disciples did not observe the laws of fasting in order to hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God. Little did they realize that the coming of Jesus marked the beginning of a new era in Israel. The longed-for Messiah has finally arrived. Fasting as a sign of hungering and preparing for His coming has become superfluous. It was no longer necessary. Now is the time of rejoicing.
Jesus’ statement about “new wine in new wineskins” is equally puzzling. While the literal meaning is obvious, the symbolic is not. It seems that by this expression the Lord asks His disciples to forsake their worldly ways and live by the Spirit of Truth. The “old wineskin” of their sinful past is incompatible with the newness and vitality of their life in Christ. The new life they have received in Christ is what the Lord describes in the gospel as “new wine” a precious gift freely and generously given. Jesus’ disciples are to leave behind their old way of sin and embrace their new identity as children of the Heavenly Father.
Daily Gospel 2017