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Bless Our Future
Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to approach you today, as did your disciples, with my questions, my doubts, and my concerns. I am confident that you hear me and that you have a message especially for me as I reflect on your words.
- Our Future: The Lord recommended to his listeners that they put new wine into fresh wineskins, “so that both are preserved.” He was recommending that they accommodate the new ways Jesus wanted to be worshiped, the new church he was forming, the new graces he would leave for all of us in the Sacraments, etc. Many of his teachings seemed radical to Pharisees and followers alike, so that even Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). In our own lives, following Jesus can require abandonment of the future we planned for ourselves. Only when we place our future in his hands can we be assured that we will age well, like wine in new wineskins.
- Fasting/Feasting: When Jesus walked the earth, fasting was unnecessary because, as Jesus told his disciples, the bridegroom was present! Modern-day disciples of Jesus follow the church’s liturgical year, which is cyclical, and includes seasons for fasting (Advent and Lent) and even longer seasons for feasting (Easter and Christmas). We exert self-control during fasts to unite ourselves with Christ and open our hearts to become more receptive to grace. Feasting is especially sweet, temporally and spiritually, when we’ve fasted well. Wanting only the best for us, our Church never demands that we fast without feasting, nor vice versa.
- Living with the Bridegroom: Our bridegroom lives! Does this fact fill us with joy? Are we fervent, and faithful to him? Do we act like a bride, striving to keep ourselves pure and undefiled? Attentive and obedient to the groom? Willing to bear fruit? We are invited to a nuptial union with Christ. As the saints describe it, this union is infinitely more intimate than conjugal love. What a reason to rejoice that the bridegroom lives!
Conversing with Christ: Lord, everywhere I look today in the Scriptures I see your protective care: in the institution of the Church; in its cyclical nature, which encourages us to fast and feast; and in the spousal intimacy you want to share with me. You are a mighty and powerful God, but you remind me in these lines of Scripture that you care for me tenderly.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will open my heart to greater intimacy with you, and with those souls you place in my life.
For Further Reflection: Jesus to St. Catherine of Siena about union with him: “And if anyone should ask me what this soul is, I would say: she is another me, made so by the union of love. What tongue could describe the marvel of this final unitive state and the many different fruits the soul receives when its powers are so filled?:Not even the soul’s own will stands between us, because she has become one thing with me. The Dialogue, Chapter 96, p. 181.
Written by Maribeth Harper.