“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast…..People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Recently, I watched a fascinating PBS three-part series titled Prohibition. During the 1920's, in an effort to legislate drinking behavior in American society, our nation passed the constitutional 18th Amendment prohibiting the sell and distribution of alcohol. As we know from history, Prohibition was a complete failure. Crime and violence prevailed asunderground speakeasies and bootlegging operations became the norm. More people died in New York City from poisoned moonshine (made from methanol or wood alcohol) than all of the American casualties in the First World War. Prohibition intended to regulate moral behavior. No booze meant America as a "nation of drunkards" could become a nation of temperance. Anytime government tries to regulate individual behaviors, limiting our freedoms, unintended consequences result.....
What if Jewish law banned wine? Imagine no wine at the Wedding of Cana or the Last Supper! An important staple in the Mediterranean diet is suddenly eliminated. In most cases, wine was safer than drinking the water.
Sabbath Prohibition In today's gospel reading, Jesus is questioned by the Disciples of John as to why everybody else fasts except for his disciples. Jewish law dictated fasting on the Sabbath - "prohibited" from work, food or drink. Jesus and his disciples didn't follow the rules. They continued to graze through the wheat fields and perform miracles. It was as if Jesus and his disciples were biblical bootleggers ready any time of the week to feed the poor, heal the sick, and drive out demons. The laws of the Sabbath didn't apply. Of course, this didn't make the Pharisees and Scribes very happy. Jesus would continuously be criticized and watched. Not following the fast was considered a punishable crime as evidence mounted against him.
Why fast when the bridegroom is present? Why not pour out the libations and feast throughout the day and night? Jesus, the Lord and Messiah, is alive in human flesh as predicted by the prophets!
Prophet Amos & Restoration The Prophet Amosbeautifully writes:
"Yes, days are coming, says the Lord,..... the juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it. I will bring about restoration of my people Israel; they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits."
Amos is known as the prophet of doom and gloom. However, in this passage he writes with hope. Restoration will be at hand. Jesus Christ, the son of God, will die for the salvation of all. We no longer have to weep and mourn. He is there to give us life and sustenance. Just as the Jews will be freed from Babylon captivity, Jesus Christ will free us from sin. His blood is thicker than water. His precious blood is the consistency of the wine we receive at communion every Sunday. The world will flourish as God restores the good back to earth. However, we must respect the restoration. We must honor God and his commandments. We must be vigilant in preserving the Christian faith.
Christ's Preservation Blessed Jordan of Saxony describes the Gospels as the new "wine of everlasting joy." Saint Catherine of Siena expands this theme when she writes:
"Let us behave like the drunkard who does not think of himself but only of the wine he has drunk and of the wine that remains to be drunk!"
As Christians, it's crucial to preserve the new wine of Truth infresh wine skins composed of faith, hope, love, and charity. Don't allow the old wine skins of indifference, disbelief, andignorance prohibit the gospel Truth from being consumed. Joyfully imbibe, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to others!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin. Please visit her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality