Although he speaks in other places of continuity with and fulfillment of what has come before, in today’s gospel passage Jesus announces the “newness” that he brings, making use of two images. The practice of fasting has no place at a wedding, Jesus points out, clearly announcing that he is the Bridegroom, the Messiah who inaugurates the “new times.” As if to underscore his point, Jesus likewise points out the foolishness of an old wine skin put to use with new wine—it just won’t work! The new wine likewise announces the “new times.”
Having left behind the Christmas season only a week ago, we might ask ourselves today whether we have also left behind the “newness of life” experienced in those days. Jesus, born into our world, continues to pursue us with a divine passion, even greater than that of the most loving bridegroom. And, thanks to the gift of baptism, the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 5, 5). Are we allowing ourselves to be pursued by Love, or have we reverted once again to living life on our own terms? Are we drinking the new wine of the Holy Spirit, experiencing the “sober intoxication” of that divine gift, or are we “running on our own steam” once again?
All this “newness” which Jesus proclaims today precludes any “business as usual,” and invites us to step fully into a new time, living in a new way as we march through a new year.
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