Introduction: Our text for our Lection Divina in Luke 5:33-39, is another controversy, about the Jewish religious practices unobserved by Jesus’ disciples in contrast with John’s disciples and those of the pharisees, who fast and pray. We shall pay attention to what Jesus said about it and what he is telling you personally.
1.Read: read the text of Luke 5:27-32 slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
2.Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
3.Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
4.Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Do not say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
5.Take now the word, sentence, or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word leads you to action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: In this text of Luke 5:33-39, we have another controversy brought by the pharisees to Jesus which disturbed once more their religious sensitivity. It was about fasting and prayer which was a common practice among the Jews. As they saw Jesus’ disciples feasting and drinking in time of fasting, they wonder how was it that the followers of the Messiah did not keep the fast. Jesus, of course, was not against fasting he himself observed this practice (see Matt 4:2) not because it was prescribed by the Jewish law, but because prayer and fast were his daily bread and weapons to defeat temptation and to be in harmony with the will of God.
Central Message: “You cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while he is still with them” … “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak. And nobody puts new wine into old skins” …
a) “You cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while he is still with them”. This was Jesus’s answer given to the pharisees who expected him an explanation to their complain (Lk 5:33). He, in a practical and free manner, explained to them that they cannot fast when the bridegroom is among them, but to celebrate him with joy while still with them. Jesu describes himself here as a ‘Bridegroom’, a figure which symbolized God and the nuptial relationship with his chosen people. Jesus in applying this symbol to himself lays claim to be on a level with God. In Jesus, God is united to his people and is the new wine that brings joy to all and perfects the old law. In the Old testament God appears as the bridegroom of his people (Is 49:15; Hos. 2:16-25), and in the New Testament Jesus is described too as the bridegroom of his people (Eph 5:25). Therefore, Jesus is not against fasting, he encourages it together with prayer at the proper time and in a particular place, like he did in the various occasions specially those forty days he spent in the dessert fasting and praying to search the will of his Father (Mtt4:2ff). He also tells them that the time will come when bridegroom will be taken from them and then they will fast. For Jesus the combination of both have been the strength of his will and action. Shouldn’t them be also for us? The wedding feast should keep going while he is with us!
b) “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak. And nobody puts new wine into old skins” To clarify even more about the attitude of Jesus on the above controversy brought by the pharisees, he tells them the parable of the new piece of clock being put in an old cloak and the new wine being put in old skins. What Jesus brings here is a new teaching that must be received with a new attitude and open heart. The old clock and old skins were the type of religious teaching imparted by the scribes and the pharisees based in laws and regulations, in contrast with the novelty of the message of Jesus on the new clock and new skins, that could have burst the old clock and the old skins if not accepted with faith, trust and open heart. He was not against the ancient teachings of the Jews but the rejection of the Newness that the Holy Spirit brought in the very person of Jesus, in his teaching and in his life.
Some questions for our reflexion:
- What religious practices have caused controversy and suffering in your community and how have you dealt with them?
- How do you understand the parable of the new clock and the new wine in today’s church reality?
- How do you live the presence of Jesus, the bridegroom, in your life? Is it with a bursting joy as in a wedding feast or with a gloomy face as in a funeral?