St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Colossians 1:15-20 + Luke 5:33-39
September 3, 2021
“Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.”
Depending on circumstances, two given cousins may resemble each other very closely, or not at all. Today’s Gospel passage presents a contrast between Jesus and His cousin, John the Baptist. Jesus confirms the differences between Him and John, although these differences lead in the same direction.
The context of this contrast is a complaint lodged against Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees. They uphold the practice of fasting and prayer, but at the same time note that Jesus’ disciples don’t seem to engage in either.
Jesus responds with a metaphor and a parable. Consider the former. Jesus describes Himself as a bridegroom. We as modern Christians understand that by this metaphor Jesus is referring to Himself as the bridegroom of the Church, though that part of the metaphor would have been lost on His original hearers. But He continues by noting that when the bridegroom is taken away, then the wedding guests will fast.
The latter part of the metaphor can be applied in two ways. The first we can reflect on in terms of Jesus’ earthly life, and the time of His Passion and death during Holy Week. The second we can reflect on in terms of our own earthly lives as pilgrims on our way to Heaven: that is to say, as members of the Church Militant. We may only share fully in the wedding feast of the Lamb in Heaven, and so while still here below we fast and pray, hoping for complete union in Heaven with the Lord.