Mark 2:18-22 Reflection: Old and New

A reading from the gospel according to Mark 2:18-22:

18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
19 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.
20 But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
21 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.
22 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.”

Reflection: Old and New

The gospel reading above shows us the beginning of the tension between Jesus and His critics. The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were quick to see and feel the difference between their usual life and the “new life” that Jesus brings. So they complained. Jesus responded by saying that the old has gone and the new has arrived. His use of a wedding as a metaphor means that His presence is like a party or a fun-filled celebration. Obviously, it is not a time for fasting but rather for rejoicing.

Jesus came not to preserve the status quo but to establish the Kingdom of God where there is peace and joy, love and justice, hope and faith. That is why His new radical way of life was at odds with the establishment particularly the religious authorities. Their opposition to Jesus would later culminate in the crucifixion.

We can easily understand the behavior of the critics of Jesus. Many people would rather cling to their cherished old way of life rather than embrace change. Especially if you are in a privileged situation like the Pharisees of old and the elite families in our time, there is no incentive for change. Yet change is the message of Jesus. He has arrived to inaugurate the foundation of a new world that would alter the way we relate to each other and to God.

Indeed, the moment one accepts Jesus as his personal Lord and savior, he becomes a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old self must be transformed into His likeness. It is no longer business as usual. Old habits must die to give way to new habits. It is not easy of course. As in all kinds of change, there is pain involved just like the tearing of old wineskins. But the fact remains, life in Christ is full of joy, hope and love.

Gospel Reading and Reflection
Gospel Reading and Reflection

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