22nd Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Cor 4:1-5
Brothers and sisters: Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God.
Gospel: Lk 5:33-39
The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
FRESH WINESKINS: The extensive celebrations that precede and accompany wedding feasts cannot be more elaborate than what is obtainable in most African cultures which might resemble the prolonged Jewish format. Although fasting was highly praised, it would have been considered out of place during a wedding feast. By using this analogy, Jesus called on his listeners to take a break from the rigid application of the letters of the law and appreciate the new thing God was doing in their midst. He is the bridegroom, and through him, God fills us with the new wine that enlivens every human person. Without demeaning the customs and rites, it is important to avoid being locked up in the familiar territory and not recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit who invites us to experience the freshness of God’s presence, love and mercy. The richness of every encounter is closely tied with staying in the present.
Prayer: Lord, help us with your grace that we may not get trapped in our familiar ways and risk missing out on the benefits of every encounter with you and with our sisters and brothers.
PRAYER AND FASTING: It is not easy for the world to accept changes. We see the scribes and Pharisees questioning Jesus about prayer and fasting. For them, whatever they do has to be seen by others. The response of Jesus shows that He does things differently and brings something new. That is why they question Him. As we celebrate the memorial of St. Gregory the Great, let us imitate Jesus Christ, by embracing a new life. A life not of showing off but of trusting in Jesus as St. Gregory did as he took care of the poor and spread the gospel of faith and morals. We should not do things to be seen by others but for the greater glory of God. Whatever good is done in silence, God has a way of blessing the doer.
JOY IS THE NATURE OF CHRISTIANITY: “Joy is a net of love by which we catch souls.” says St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Where there is joy, and peace, there is Good News. Christianity has the seal of joy and happiness. Jesus Christ compares in the gospel of today the life of discipleship with the celebration of Marriage. In Bantu culture, Marriage brings the different communities to share joy with the married couples for many days. In the acts of the Apostles, we read that the first Christian community, “they shared their food with great joy and simplicity of heart.” (Acts 2:46). Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy in that town.” (Acts 8:8); even in their sufferings and persecutions, “they were filled with Joy” (Acts 13:52). Are we disciples of joy in spite of deprivations, struggles in our Christian life? If not, we lack faith in the presence of Jesus who has called us into his love.