Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection July 06, 2024


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R/. The Lord speaks of peace for his people.

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; and I know them, and they follow me.

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: The disciples of John came to Jesus, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to 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 puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

1.      Jesus addresses the question of fasting. He clarifies the need, the motive, and the effect of it. He answers the disciples of John who ask him why his disciples do not fast while they and those of the Pharisees fast. He indicates that he is the bridegroom and his disciples are the wedding guests. His presence is an occasion to celebrate, but they would fast in his absence.

2.      Does it mean that his disciples need not fast as long as he is with them? Is fasting only an act of mourning and penance over his absence?  Here the point is not just the issue of fasting, about the when and why of it. In no way, the value of fasting is compromised or minimized.

3.      The Lord wants to teach us clearly about the whole purpose, motive, and direction of all our religious activities and observances. It is not just to fulfil a religious obligation. Rather, all our devotional practices must be oriented to the experience of the bridegroom. They should arouse in us a feeling of mourning and penance over our missing his presence.

4.      Despite some disciplinary and restrictive character, every religious practice is essentially a positive experience. It is a celebration of the Lord’s presence. They help us to grow in closeness to him. They also lead us to a thorough change of life. This change is profound and holistic.

5.      It is not shallow or superficial that has only some external and temporary effects. Our acts of devotion should not be like new patches on an old cloth or new wine into old wine-skins. We should throw away the old cloth and old wine-skins of sin and evil.

6.      This is the perfect “changeover” that we see in the promise of God in the first reading. A truly renewed person would “repair the breaches of his booth”, “raise up and rebuild the ruined city (life) from its ruins”, and “plant and reap the crops in abundance”. Thus it is all a matter of “restoration”.

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