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How Can We Keep From Singing?
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, let me better understand your word during this time of prayer. I want to be like the wedding guests who are in the presence of the bridegroom, unable to mourn because of intimacy with you. You ask me to detach myself from the things of this world that keep me from you; enlighten me to know what these things are, and strengthen me to give them up, assured of the hope of something infinitely better.
- This One Is Different: Both John the Baptist and Jesus were accompanied by groups of men who were edified by their words and deeds. These people bore the label “disciple,” from the Latin word meaning student, learner, or follower. Those who followed John would have learned from their teacher about certain differences between him and Jesus, particularly in stature: “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). These disciples, some of whom would have seen a dove land on the newly baptized Jesus, and heard a voice from Heaven saying, “This is my son” (Matthew 3:16-17), had not yet discovered the most profound difference between these two teachers, one of essence, which John had discerned from his first encounter with the divine Jesus—causing him to leap in St. Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:41).
- The Bridegroom Is with Us: Clear differences also existed between the practices of the two bands of disciples. For instance, one group often observed a fast and the other did not. Without a doubt, each teacher preached of the need for repentance, which can be manifested in many ways. “Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others” (CCC 1434). Jesus’ disciples did not fast in the presence of “the bridegroom,” the continual source for their joy. Today, while we have access to the bridegroom in the Eucharist, we also long for that continual union with him in joy for all eternity. St. John of the Cross once said that we cannot rise up to God if we are bound to the things of this world, reminding us that fasting from things we enjoy is a preparation for Heaven.
- New Wine, Fresh Skins: Another preparation for Heaven, of course, is to reconcile with God while here on earth, by confessing our sins to “the bridegroom” in humble contrition. With souls absolved of sin, we, like new wineskins, can more effectively receive the “new wine” that Christ has in store for us, an outpouring of his grace. If we wonder what beautiful gifts a pure soul might accept from the Lord, we can look to our Blessed Mother. The Immaculate One, preserved from the stain of sin from the moment of her conception, was the epitome of a “new wineskin.” It was to this beautiful earthen vessel that the Angel Gabriel was able to proclaim “Hail, full of grace,” seeking her fiat to become the bride of the Holy Spirit, and set in motion God’s plan of salvation. May we also cooperate with God’s plan, keeping our souls clean and ready to accept God’s grace with deep gratitude.
Conversing with Christ: I thank you, Lord, for your invitation to me to enter into prayer with you. You are the bridegroom who is always attentive to his bride, the Church, into which you adopted me at my baptism. Let me gratefully appreciate the grace you poured out on that day and each time I return to you in your sacraments. Make me a “fresh wineskin,” always ready to receive from you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will read (or sing) the lyrics of the hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing?” and consider the joy that flows from the bridegroom’s invitation to be members of his bride, the Church.
For Further Reflection: Reflect on these words of Scripture from the loving bridegroom: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ dens and the mountain haunts of leopards. You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace” (Song of Songs 4:7-9).
Andrew Rawicki and his wife JoAnna live in Irving, Texas, near eight of their ten grandchildren. A convert from Judaism, Andrew entered the Church in 1991, and has been a member of the Regnum Christi spiritual family since 2001. He has served as the Regnum Christi Local Director for Dallas since July 2020.