Friday of the 22nd Week of the Year

Luke 5:33-39

The Question about Fasting


Today I invite you to open your Bible and read Luke 5:17-6:11. You find there five short stories, five conflicts. The first two have to do with forgiving sins, the last two with healing on the Sabbath. Compared with these four conflicts, the middle part, today’s gospel passage, seems so harmless. Just a simple question about why Jesus’ disciples do not fast like other Jewish groups. And yet, the passage is explosive and deserves to be the center section. The explosive word is “bridegroom.” The Jews used the word only for a real groom or for God, the bridegroom of his bride Israel. By comparing himself with a bridegroom, Jesus indicates that through his teachings and actions, through his very person, God has become present in the world in a new and unique way. That is why he heals and forgives and proclaims himself as the Lord of the Sabbath. No wonder that this new teaching with authority scares and shocks the leaders of the institutionalized religion. It is indeed like new, still fermenting wine that would burst the old, hardened wineskins. Is Jesus still “explosive” for us? Have we not “tamed” Jesus so that he fits into our small, limited world?

Jesus was, is, and will remain challenging. May we be ready to renew ourselves constantly and be open to the ever “new, bubbling wine” of Christ’s “explosive” words and demands! (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


In the gospel today Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom whose presence is reason enough for rejoicing and not fasting. We ask ourselves the following questions” is Jesus present or absent? Must we fast or not? In his human form, Jesus is obviously absent and therefore we should probably fast. We fast to discipline ourselves, to open our inner eye, to gain strength for loving God and neighbor. By fasting we learn compassion, our prayers and better and we remind ourselves that in our lives God has priority. The Church asks only minimal fasting, but encourages self-denial and especially sharing with our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

But we know Jesus is also present. He is present especially in the Eucharist. He is present in our community gathered in his name. he is present in our poor neighbors who come to us for help. Therefore we rejoice in His presence, praising and thanking Him.

Jesus, the image of the Invisible God, the bridegroom of the church wants to transform all things and make them new in the new heaven and the new earth. Our efforts and sacrifices (fasts), joyfully made, help to bring this about. (Fr. James Risse, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


React or respond, what is the difference? A story might help:

I walked with a Quaker friend to the newsstand one night and he bought a paper, thanking the newsie politely. The newsie did not even acknowledge it. “A sullen fellow, isn’t he?” I commented. “Oh, he is that way every night,” shrugged my friend. “Then why do you continue to be so polite to him?” I asked. “Why not,” responded my friend. “Why should I let him decide how I am going to act?” (from Sydney J. Harris, Readers Digest July 1960).

This story somehow illustrates the difference of a reaction from a response. Reaction is going against, while response is connecting with. The people in the gospel were reactive to Jesus’ disciples because they were not fasting. Jesus challenged them saying: “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” he was pointing out to the people: stop being reactive, be responsive instead.

Nobody is unhappier than perpetual reactors. Their center of emotional gravity is not rooted within themselves, where it belongs but in the world outside of themselves. Their spiritual climate temperature is always being raised or lowered by the social climate around them; they are under the mercy of external elements.

But in Christ this is not so. Fasting or not fasting, what matters most is the interior disposition in what we do and who we are. In this sense we can always be responsive and proactive despite the negativities that may surround us.

Many human dynamics are operative when people are together. The dynamics can be energizing or debilitating. But with Jesus we can always be positive, a responsive person therefore. Granting of course that we care enough for our own life thereby we take the initiative of being accountable to others and to our world. (Bro. Eugenio Orog, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


The disciples of john and of the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples did not fast like they did. Jesus replied that fasting has its place in our lives but rejoicing in the presence of the bridegroom is even more important.

More challenging still is the remark of Jesus about the need to pour new wine into new wineskins. To use old wineskins would be disastrous because the still fermenting wine would simply burst the old, brittle skins and all would be lost. Here Jesus looks at the mentality that lay behind the question of the disciples of John and Pharisees. Why were they so inflexible in their ways in spite of all their prayers and sacrifices? Why could they not see the goodness of others even if those others could not follow all the rules as they did? Above all, why could they not see the love and compassion of God that Jesus was revealing to them by His words and deeds? They were being offered new wine but they could not take it because they remained the same old containers.

Let us put this teaching into the context of one of the key events of our recent history, the EDSA Revolution of 1986. When one remembers the explosion of joy that ook place 23 years ago after the fall of a dictator and his hated regime, it seems extraordinary that people now have to search for a reason to give thanks. What happened? Or as so many would say: “What went wrong with EDSA?”

Leaving aside for the moment all our partisan views, is it possible to say that EDSA itself was a wonderful new wine offered to us but  unfortunately there was very little change in the wineskins? To be honest about it, can we really say we have changed all that much? Have most of us not expected almost a heaven on earth to take place without much effort on our part? Have we not offered the old fragile and brittle wineskins of indifference, selfishness, and corruption as containers for the new wine? And so we have come to the present situation where truth and morality seem to play little or no role anymore in our public life. For life to change we must seem to play little or no role anymore in our public life. For life to change we must also change. In other words we have to become new wineskins for the Lord’s blessings. (Fr. John O’Mahony, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


September 2, 2016 Friday

The “tensions of the old and the new” reverberates in our readings today. And Jesus does not seem to choose which one is better. In fact, He favors the pouring of new wines into fresh wineskins; and yet an equal favor goes to the goodness of the old wine.

I am often confronted with the questions from some of our church-goers about Pope Francis, who to the portrayal of the media brings forth a new revolution for the church. In fact, Leonardo Boff calls for “a break with the past to bring in the new.” But it seems, the idea of revolution in itself is not really a new idea even Francis of Assisi, the Francis of old, preached the same message.

Jesus Himself came not to abolish the “old” but to fulfill it; for the heart of His message will always be the same: the God who revealed his immense love. This age-old reality does not mean living itself in the past. In fact, our first reading notes that the revelation of the “old” takes shape in the continuance of delity of those who have been entrusted by the mysteries of God.

Let us take the words of Pope Francis himself from Evangelii Gaudium 11: “Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world. Every form of authentic evangelization is always ‘new.’”

There will always be tensions between the old and the new because Christian life is always marked by renewal and of constant understanding of the eternal Gospel, the ever ancient, ever new. (Fr. Antonio Gilberto S. Marqueses, SVD Rome, Italy Bible Diary 2016)


PRAYER, PEOPLE, POOR: The Bible is known to be the best-selling book of all times. After the Bible, what is next in the best-selling list of books? It is cookbooks. Cookbooks sell a lot because we all have to eat and eating has become an act, it is not only a meal. That is why in an economic crisis, it is the food chains that prosper the most because we can skip buying shoes or stop buying new clothes but we will always have to eat at least three times a day. It is understandable that many of the lessons Jesus imparted to us took place within the context of a meal. We cannot have a party without food. In the same way the message of Jesus will not reach us without a meal celebration. So, the Lord says to us, feast and fast. First, we feast and then we will fast. The rule is very simple. “When I am with you, you must feast. When I am not with you, you must fast.”

How does the Lord come to us so that we will know when to feast? Three Ps. First, the Lord comes to us when we Pray. After we pray, we must celebrate. When we pray, we must lift up our hearts to the Lord. When we pray we must feast so to speak, therefore, hindi dapat nakasimangot kapag nagdarasal kahit mukhang cute kung tingnan sa picture kapag nakapikit at nakasimangot at talangang gusot na gusot ‘yong mukha kapag nagdarasal. Every prayer must be a feast encounter with a loving God who belongs right here in our hearts. The Lord comes to us when we pray and when we pray, we must celebrate.

The second P, the Lord comes to us through People. Every time we see a person, that is, a sign that God has not given up on the world. Every time we see ourselves in the mirror, it also means that God has not given up on us. When we look at that crucifix in front of the Church, it is just as good as looking to our left and to our right and finding God beside us. The person seated next to each of us is feast and celebration. Maniwala kayo sa akin na ang katabi natin sa mga sandaling ito ay katawan ng Diyos, kahit hindi kayo naniwala, larawan ng Diyos ‘yan.

The third P is Poor. Every time we see the poor we must celebrate and when we celebrate we do not bring them, sardines and pork and beans. When we celebrate we do not measure one-half kilo of sugar only and nothing more. When we celebrate we do not just put orange food coloring into the water. When we celebrate we must put out the best because the VIP is here in our midst. Sadly, when it comes to being with the poor or tendering a dinner or lunch for the poor, we sort of scrimp on our expenses. We do not lavish them with nice gifts as we do for our friends. Why is that? If we are brave enough to understand that when we face the poor, it is God we are facing, should we not celebrate and be lavish with the celebration? Let us feast together. We shall be together in this celebration, in prayer, with people, among the poor. (Bp Socrates Villegas, DD, Love Like Jesus, pp. 87-88)


THE YOUNG AND THE OLD: I have my own confession to make this Mass.

Some months ago, I attempted to learn how to drive a car. I said: “I attempted,” because I failed. The car I was using bumped against a wall and my driver-teacher hurt his foot as a result of my recklessness. I am trying my best to overcome the trauma of that accident. However, if you ask my teacher-driver why I bumped the car I was driving, he is going to tell you that I stepped too heavily on the accelerator.

As you know, every car has an accelerator but all cars also have brakes. And a car needs a good combination of accelerator and brake so that it will run smoothly.

That is what the gospel is telling us today. The Lord is telling us that not all that is old is bad, neither is all that is new. The Lord is telling us that in every reality, there must be something old and something new.

You must have old people to keep stability in the family. And yet, you must have young people so that the clan can be perpetuated. You must have old people to keep the family stable and solid. Have you realized that it is our lolos and lolas that keep us together. When they have their birthdays, the young gather together round the old because they keep the family together. They are our source of stability. But a family cannot be completely composed of old people. There must be new children into the family so that the family will always have new life.

It is the same way with the Church. We cannot be all conservatives. Neither can we be all progressives. In our hearts, there must be wisdom of old age and the idealism of the youth.

Probably, the reason a generation gap exists in the family is the refusal of the old people to recognize that the young have something to contribute – new life, vigour, idealism. The young have a lot of these. On the other hand, the young people refuse to recognize that the old people have the wisdom of experience; that they can provide stability and constancy in life.

The young need the old, the old need the young. And when the young appreciate the old and the old appreciate the young, we have a perfect combination and the car of our life will run smoothly and safely. (Bp Socrates Villegas, DD, Only Jesus, Always Jesus, pp. 10-11)



Jesus talks about fasting. Jews fasted for all kinds of reasons. Fasting was a sign of mourning for the dead, a sign of repentance for sin, a way of preparing for the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom.

We can’t be certain why John’s disciples fasted but it was probably to prepare for the coming of the Messiah and God’s kingdom. After all, John said, “Something big is about to happen.”

This would explain Jesus’ response. In effect Jesus is saying, “Something big and important had happened. The Messiah has come; the kingdom is at hand. The reason for fasting is ended.” To keep fasting now would be like continuing to bandage an arm after it is healed. It would be like continuing to hold an umbrella after the rain has stopped.

Do we perform certain religious practices routinely without reflecting on them?

Lord, keep us from letting our religious worship become mechanical or wooden (Mark Link, SJ Illustrated Daily Homilies Weekdays p. 205).


V. 34: When we have Jesus, there should be no room for sadness. his presence calls for feasting, not fasting. even a bad situation can become a joyful one when Jesus is around. invite Jesus in every occasion (Fr Ching OP).


Friday, September 4, 2015

FRIDAY OF THE 22ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – LUKAS 5:33-39. UNSA MAY GIPASABOT SA GIINGON NI HESUS, “WALAY TAWO NGA MAGSULOD OG BAG-ONG BINO DIHA SA MGA DAANG SUDLANAN NGA PANIT”? Ang bag-ong bino mao ang mga pagtulon-an ni Hesus nga maghatag og tinuod nga kalipay sa mga tawo nga mosunod niini. Ang daang sudlanan mao ang naandang panghunahuna ug kasingkasing.  Ang mga Pariseo ug magtutudlo sa Balaod naglisod sa pagsabot ug pagdawat kang Hesus tungod kay nagpabilin man sila sa ilang naandang paagi sa pag-ila ug pagsimba sa Dios. Kasagaran kanila naghunahuna nga ang Dios layo sa tawo, daling masuko ug gahing magpasaylo. Apan dili ingon niini ang Dios nga gipaila kanato ni Hesus. Siya ang katumanan sa giingon sa Salmista: “The Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” Posted by Abet Uy


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reflection for September 4, Friday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time: Luke 5:33-39

Reflection: Can we discover the purity of a person heart by mere observance of tradition or ritual such as fasting? No because that is only an external show of one’s faith and what is external does not totally represent the inner being of an individual. For example if a person is always at church could we now say that he/she is holy? Of course not! We still need to know more about the person so that we could discover more about his/her character.

Jesus was questioned by the scribes and Pharisees, why His disciples were not fasting like them and the followers of John the Baptist. The simple answer of Jesus was they can’t fast yet because He is still with them.

Fasting is actually good because it cleans and purifies our bodies but what is the use of fasting if we continue to sin? What is the use of fasting if we just use it as our standard to judge others who are not fasting? What is the use the of fasting if there’s no inner transformation and conversion?

There is more to life than mere observance of self-serving laws and traditions such as fasting. Inner conversion is better than fasting, not having a self-righteous mindset is better than fasting.

Understanding those who commit mistakes is better than fasting. Forgiving those who ask for our forgiveness is better than fasting. And most of all, a life spent together with Jesus is far better than fasting.- Marino J. Dasmarinas


 September 4, 2015

Friday of the 22nd Week in the Ordinary Time B

Col 1: 15-20, Lk 5: 33-39

New Wine and New Wine Skins

In today’s Gospel passage Jesus is using an imagery which we may not fully understand. But the imagery of wine and wine skin was well understood by the people of his times. Wine was preserved in wine skins. The new wine skins were elastic enough to take the pressure of it, but as it became old it would lose its elasticity and would become hard. Then it would easily burst unable to bear the pressure.

The message is clear that the new teaching of Jesus cannot be contained in the old wine skins of Judaism. A separation from the Judaism was inevitable for Christianity. This passage and specifically this imagery tell of it. That is the traditional interpretation of it. This traditional interpretation was first introduced by the heretic, Marcion in second century A.D. He used it to explain the Christian departure from the Jewish roots. Though other teachings of Marcion were discarded as heresy, his interpretation of the passage lived on. Many splinter groups used it later to justify their separation from Catholic Church, including the protestant reformers like, Luther, Swingli and Calvin and also many neo Pentecostal groups in the recent years. That traditional interpretation need not bethe only thing that Jesus meant.

It is a fact of life that none of us likes to deviate from the old ideas with which we grow familiar in the course of time. Any new idea is resisted by the mind. We feel comfortable and secure with the familiar old ideas. What prevents us from accepting the new ideas is the sense of loss of this comfort and security. Same is the case with our religious practices. We are quite happy with the way we pray, the routine we follow in our spiritual practices and the rituals and novenas and other pious practices. They give us a sense of satisfaction. It need not be necessary that they help us in our spiritual growth and experience of Jesus. What they provide us in many instances is the psychological satisfaction than the real spiritual growth. Naturally any new way is resisted by our traditional mind.

Walking with Jesus is a new experience of joyful relationship. The old wine skin of our mind resists it. The teaching of Jesus presents a new way of looking at God and religion. Jesus was against the pharisaic way of tying up people in archaic rules and practices. He wants us to experience the joy of experiencing God. That was what he was experiencing. He was finding solace and blissful joy in the company of his heavenly father. He wants us also to come to that level of experiencing him. Do I experience joy in the presence of Jesus?

Jesus wants us to keep our minds like the new wine skins, elastic and fresh to receive the new wine of his teaching through the Holy Spirit. Let us keep our minds open. Christianity as envisaged by Jesus is a religion of Joy. This joy comes from the experience of heavenly father and Jesus. Jesus wants us to realize that life with Him is full of joy and celebration. He is the life. He is the joy. He is the source of my satisfaction.Dr Martin Mallathu CMI


Friday of the 22nd Week in the Ordinary Time

1 Cor 4: 1-5; Lk.5:33-39

New Wine and Old Wineskins

The people were used to the religiosity consisting of rituals and customs. But Jesus had come with a spirituality of Love. For him what is important is love and in order to grow in love one may fast and do penance. But he is not in favour of fasting and penance for one’s own sake. Once this new spirituality is in place there is no place for the old religiosity based on rituals and customs. He is well aware that in such case, both the new and old both will not be sustained. And once one has experienced the joy of the spirituality of love, it will be too difficult for her or him to get back to religiosity based on rituals and customs.

This is what we have seen in the life of Blessed Mother Therese of Kolkata. She was willing to break out of the old custom and embrace a new spirituality of loving the poor and destitute. For this she did not mind the comments, troubles and difficulties involved in it, but her love for the Lord and because of it for everyone else, was so powerful that she could withstand any opposition in this regard.

And this is what the teachers could do today to inspire the students to live a spirituality of love than just living a life of religiosity based on some rituals and customs. The greatest moment of a teacher’s life is when she or he is able to inspire her or his students to follow a spirituality of love than just live one’s life for oneself. Fr. Paulson Muthipeedika CMI


A WORD ON FASTING – Fasting has always been an essential element of any spirituality. Even before Jesus began His ministry, John the Baptist’s followers have been practicing a kind of fasting. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ time, too, were replete with fasting customs that included meticulous ceremonial washings and sanitation of jars and kettles.

Last Lenten season, a friend of mine posted on his Facebook wall some rules on the age requirement for fasting and what kind of food to abstain from. In the comment section, I read someone say, “Is that really needed? Isn’t fasting from sin and evil the better kind of fasting Jesus wants during this Lenten season?” The comment received many likes. But, though well intentioned, there is much to correct in that statement.

First of all, fasting from sin and evil is not to be done only during the Lenten season. We are to fast from all sin and evil all the time. First Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from every form of evil.” Notice it did not say, “Abstain from some form of evil,” or “during some times.” The real essence of fasting, therefore, is the willpower that abstinence from something good and pleasurable will give us. This is why we are asked to give up pleasurable activities or delicious food. They are not bad in themselves, but the self-mastery that follows from willful abstinence is the goal of all fasting. The occasional fasting from something good empowers us to regularly fast from sin and evil. This is why in Christian tradition, Fridays even outside of Lent are also considered days of penance and abstinence.

I grew up in this tradition. Ever since, all of my Fridays have been meatless Fridays. So yes, while fasting from sin and evil is a greater intention, it does not cancel out fasting from food and anything that is pleasurable. In fact, it presupposes it.

Enjoy your fast! Fr. Joel Jason                 

REFLECTION QUESTION: Is abstinence and asceticism an occasional or regular part of your spirituality?

“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). With the discipline of an athlete, help me run the race of holiness. Amen.


September 2, 2016

REFLECTION: Many fervent Christians, in reading the Bible if we are to progress constantly (Eph 5:2; Ph 1:9, 25; Col 1:10; etc.) is in our journey Godward, dream of knowing exactly where they stand in their relationship with God. They would love to be able to measure their Christian performance, in some way they could—figuratively speaking—plot their location on a sort of spiritual chart or graph.

Unfortunately, feelings cannot help here, because progressing Christians feel further from God as they experience the various nights of the soul. Furthermore, wanting to know one’s spiritual state is a way of keeping one’s attention on oneself and thus of feeding our dear little ego.

No, godly people all have one thing in common: they have completely lost interest in their spiritual progress. They are hypnotized by God and do not care for anything else. As Paul says in today’s first reading: “I do not even judge myself.”

Three criteria should suffice to tell us if we are moving God-ward: an ever-diminishing concern for the self, an ever-increasing love of neighbor, and a state of habitual joy. In the end, the only thing that counts is to try to please God in all things.


Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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