Faith Daily | 3 July 2021
PRAYER of the DAY - PENTECOST APBA p552
who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son
to suffer death upon a cross,
and by his glorious resurrection
delivered us from the power of the enemy:
grant us so to die daily to sin
that we may evermore live with him
in the joy of his resurrection;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 9: 14-17
14Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, 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.”
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by: Peter Galbraith
There are seemingly two thematic contexts in this short passage yet the passage itself reads continuously. Both contexts are about replacing the old with the new.
As Matthew’s record indicates, overt fasting was an activity noticed by all, but its motivation could vary markedly. The disciples of John the Baptist and their leader were preparing the way for the One who had been prophesied in Scripture. There was a need to retain the respect of listeners by observing rituals embedded in that law.
For the Pharisees fasting was treated as a sign of public piety. We recall the parable of the Pharisee on the street corner listing it among his litany of virtues.
In contrast Jesus says that fasting, when practised, should be done privately, and the incarcerated John, and his disciples, would have understood His reference to the bridegroom. We imagine this would have been the mode observed by Jesus’s disciples after He was taken from them - private fasting motivated by that event and not enacted publicly. True faith has no need for public ostentation. Such old ways are to be replaced by the new.
The garment and wineskins parable is very familiar. Wineskins expand as the wine ferments which is fine if the skins are new. If they have been used before and the necessary resilience compromised. then like strong new stitches on weakened fabric they cannot withstand the stress and all is ruined. In contemporary language it might be called false economy.
And of course, the moral is a timeless one. The Christian faith in practice contains enduring components that must ever be a central part of its message, and others that perhaps continue because that is the way things have always been. Fresh resilient wineskins are needed to take new wine into a hurting world where challenges continually emerge wearing different clothes.
FINAL PRAYER: APBA p 543
renew us through the gift of your Spirit,
that we may always do and think
what is righteous in your sight,
that we, who can do nothing good without you,
may live according to your holy will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,