New Wine of the Bridegroom

“New Wine of the Bridegroom”
A reflection on Mark 2:18-22
Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to him 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

Something new was in the air. Jesus, a rabbi who feasted with “tax collectors and sinners,” cut a dubious figure next to the camel’s hair-clad John the Baptist. The bridegroom is here, Jesus announced. The time for fasting will come when the bridegroom is taken away.

In fact, the death and resurrection of Christ inspired the undying movement of the desert fathers and mothers from Egypt and Syria to Mount Athos, Europe and the ends of the earth. Thousands of ascetics like John the Baptist and Elijah appeared in later centuries seeking the face of God through Jesus Christ.

Fasting itself was not the problem. Jesus himself fasted in the desert for forty days and nights, battling temptations in preparation for his ministry. When his disciples failed to cast out an unclean spirit, Jesus told them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29, RSVCE).

What is the difference between the old wine and the new? The bridegroom has come, the Word made flesh, revealing the face of God in the Son. The Spirit sent by the Father through the Son transformed the disciples at Pentecost and made them God-bearers and living temples. 

The Holy Spirit poured into the new wineskins of baptized persons writes the law on human hearts (Mark 1:8; Ezekiel 11:19; 2 Corinthians 3:3). 

Pour new wine into new wineskins! 
Christ has come to replace old gins.

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