A Time for Feasting

Luke 5: 33-39
1 Cor 4:1-5 / Psa 37

Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.
(Luke 5:34-35)

Nothing will last, but in its place,
The old will be replaced by the new;
Leave the comfort of tested ways,
And choose the path taken by the few.

They said to Him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ” (Luke 5: 33-39)

Reflection

What Jesus was telling His critics was that there is a time appropriate for everything. His presence among them was akin to a grand wedding celebration, a time when the kingdom of God was being proclaimed, when all kinds of illnesses were being cured, when evil spirits were being cast out, when the wisdom of God was being shared, and all for free! Why would anyone think of fasting during such a joyous occasion? Then our Lord added ominously, “But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” This in reference to His coming passion and crucifixion in Calvary.

Jesus was not disparaging the value of fasting as a form of spiritual discipline. In fact He Himself fasted for forty days in the desert in preparation for His ministry. He even instructed His listeners on the proper way to fast: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting… when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Mt.6:16-18). Our Lord was simply pointing out that “There is an appointed time for everything… A time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance… A time to rend, and a time to sew” (Eccles. 3:1,4,7).

In the same manner, “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one.” Or “pours new wine into old wineskins.” There is an inseparable dichotomy in all things old and new, and distinct from each other they must always remain. Just like the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. Jesus never violated the traditions of the prophets or the laws laid down by His Father through Moses. But neither did He compromise His new teachings just to conform to those customs and traditions. Nor did He criticize the old. In one parable, He told His disciples, “Every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Mt.13:52).

Today’s Gospel is telling us that all things undergo change, and although we must always respect ancient customs and traditions, we must practice time-tested values in the context of the present, and not remain in the comfort zone of the past. God’s love, after all, is dynamic, forward-looking, and creative. So must our faith be.

Thank You, dear God for making us understand that after our sorrows and difficulties there will be times to be joyful and be full of hope; for there is a reason and there is a season for everything that happens in our life, and it is enough that we put our trust and confidence in Your Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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