2nd Week of Ordinary Time (21st January, 2019)
First Reading: Heb 5:1-10
Gospel: Mk 2:18-22
Today’s Gospel presents to us the change of life demanded upon our union with Christ. Prior to disciple’s alliance with Christ, there were disciples loyal to Pharisees as well as St. John the Baptist. Both groups were ardent followers of the tradition then existing or exposed by their respective leaders or the doctrine their leaders taught. However, Jesus’ arrival brought in a new life. Although he did not come to replace any old thing or change any old thing as he would say, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Mt 5:17). He gave new perspective or significance to the then existing practices. An example of where the change Jesus wished to bring about is reflected in today’s gospel.
Today’s gospel contains three parables i.e., Parables of the fasting at the wedding feast, the old cloth and the new wines. He says that one should not put a new patch in the old one because when the new patch shrinks due to washing, it will tear away the old garment making the tear worse. Similarly, new win needs a new wine skin because as the new wine expands during the fermentation process, it stretches the wine skin. An old wine skin will burst under the pressure of new wine.
What these parables point out is that one can’t mix the old religious rituals with new faith in Jesus. The old clothing namely our sinful past can’t be must mended but must be replaced. The new cloth is the new life in Jesus i.e., the righteous life. It is unacceptable to mix our new commitment to Jesus with old sinful nature but the old must be given up or cast away so that the new life we adopt with Christ will remain strong. We see in several instances such as in Paul’s letter to the Romans where he says, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11). He says similarly to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
We see it already said in other instances by Jesus too. He says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and dispose the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Mt 6:24). Yes, we can’t both trust in God and follow the world. If we truly wish to follow God, then we must give up the world. Amen.