Year B, The Eighth Sunday Ordinary Time

The New-ness of the Gospel

February 27, 2000


Ronald D. Curley

TEXT: The Holy Gospel According to Saint Mark 2:18-22

When we go back to the prophet Jeremiah in the Book of Lamentations, we hear the words -- that it is of the Lord's steadfast Love (Mercy) that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not, they are new every morning. Great is God's faithfulness.

The text of that prophet reads,

22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

23 they are new every morning;

great is thy faithfulness.

24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,

"therefore I will hope in him."

25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.

God is so faithful to us. Someone has even said that God is much more interested in our salvation than even we are.

Perhaps, it is because God has demonstrated his love so fully toward and for us in that while we were sinners, Christ Jesus died for us. Romans 5:8 says - "But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."

Thus, it was so when Jesus received this criticism.

18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

I suppose this was an honest question. Perhaps, it was a simple inquiry. After all, fasting was looked upon as something good, as it should be today. It is good to fast, so, why were not the disciples of Jesus fasting?

The answer was tied to the Good News. Jesus IS the GOOD NEWS for all of us!

19 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

There was work to be done. The message of the Gospel was being preached in the world. Fasting would come later. St. Mark, preaching to Romans primarily, declares with brevity the New-ness of this proclamation of the Good News of Jesus. This was not the time for fasting and austerity. It was the time for spreading the word. There is a necessity for the word to be immediately proclaimed in the territory. Thus, there is that emphasis.

And, yet, he goes on to record,

20 The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

Something was happening, and, the time would come for fasting later. We are about to enter the time for fasting and sacrifice during Lenten Season. Now, we prepare and proclaim. Then, we recall our sins and do penance and repent and trust God's Gospel. Now, the Gospel is proclaimed in its New-ness.

21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.

When I was little I remember the day a dog chewed a hole in the blanket that was in the back seat of our old automobile, (a 1946 model of a car I believe). The blanket was a good woolen one, so, my mother sewed a piece of cloth over the hole. I remember that old patch. It was funny to me then, because that bright green patch on this dark green blanket shriveled up with the first washing and started tearing off. It did not hold.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not built upon all the ceremonies of the Old Testament. They were good in looking forward to Jesus. But, beloved, once Jesus came, our Emmanuel, then, he fulfilled the things written by Moses, the prophets and the writings of the Old Testament. Something NEW was happening. And, it is God who is the Author of it, in Person.

It is almost like trying to take that 1946 automobile and trying to keep up with a modern vehicle on a modern freeway or autobahn. There is the New-ness of the Gospel.

Jesus provides for us another example.

22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins."

Each day I read this, I sense the freshness of the Gospel and how it needs to be seen as something wonderfully fresh and alive. We do not worship a dead Jesus, a God who is somehow "irrelevant" to our own day. No, God's Gospel is alive and fresh, relevant for our times. We are in the springtime of a new evangelization throughout the world. We just need to realize it and stop being so pessimistic.

I hear so many that feel so negative about the future, as though all we were here to do is suffer and die. Well, that may be what happens. But, goodness sakes that is not what we live for. We LIVE for a RISEN CHRIST JESUS who is the Victor! Satan is a defeated foe and we are on the winning team!

We may suffer greatly, but that is not the end. That is the means of God's grace. It is grace. Yet, the Scriptures tell us to rejoice in the Lord, again, rejoice!

The Church will not sink to the bottom of the ocean never to be seen again.

The gates of hell will not prevail against her.

We have St. Michael protecting the Mother of the Church, and, we are her offspring, brothers and sisters of King Jesus!

After the battle comes the reign of God alone forever. It's right around the corner and the Wine is in the new bags getting better and better as it ages just at the right speed and temperature.

I don't know about you all, but I got a good taste of that Wine at the wedding of Cana, when Mary asked Jesus to do something about the lack of it. Thank you Mary for asking Jesus to do that.

Beloved, Jesus filled those jars for us and we carry some of that good Wine in our new wineskins!

That makes me real happy!

It is the "good stuff" that God gives to us. It is the Wine the Great High Priest gives us of himself, the Wine that we have come to us in the Most Holy Eucharist. Thanks be to God alone for this Body and Blood we partake of in Eucharist. It is the new Wine in new wineskins.

There is a freshness, a new-ness to this every day at every Mass.

This is the "new-ness" of the Gospel that parallels the "new-ness" of life that we have in Jesus Christ.

Deus et Sanctissima.