Bronze statuette of a satyr with a wineskin,
Greece,
3rd–2nd century B.C.,
Bronze
© Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bronze statuette of a satyr with a wineskin,
Greece,
3rd–2nd century B.C.,
Bronze
© Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Gospel of 16 January 2023

Why do your disciples not fast?

Mark 2:18-22

One day when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Why is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of fasting while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they could not think of fasting. But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak; if he does, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine, fresh skins!’

Reflection on the Ancient Greek Statuette

A wineskin is an ancient type of receptacle for wine, made of leather animal skin. Skins are stitched together to form a vessel for storing or transporting wine. Our Ancient Greek bronze statuette depicts a satyr carrying a wineskin on his shoulder and with a torch in his other hand. The satyr may be extinguishing the torch or perhaps lighting it from a hearth, we don’t know.

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear how the disciples of John the Baptist are upset with Jesus' disciples because they did not fast. Fasting was one of the three most important religious duties, along with prayer and almsgiving. Jesus is giving a simple explanation: there is a time for fasting and a time for feasting (or celebrating). Jesus wants us to understand that to walk with him as a disciple is to experience a joyful relationship which is similar to that of a wedding party, where we celebrate with their wedding with the groom and bride. But there also comes a time when we must bear our crosses. To be a true disciple of Christ means there is a time for rejoicing in the Lord's presence and a time for seeking the Lord with humility, through fasting.

Jesus then goes on to use an image familiar to his audience: new and old wineskins.  In Jesus' times, wine was stored in wineskins, not bottles. New wine was still fermenting when it was poured into skins.  The gases exerted pressure on the skins. New wine skins were elastic enough to take the pressure, but old wine skins easily burst because they were hard. So, what did Jesus mean by this comparison?  Is it as simple as Jesus prompting us to reject the old in place of the new?  No, again he is asking us to find a balance. Just as there is a right place and a right time for fasting and for feasting, so there is a right place for the old as well as the new. Look at Scripture for example. How impoverished we would be if we had only the Old Testament or only the New Testament, rather than both. In order to do this balancing act to which we are called, we need wisdom.

Jesus wants our hearts and minds to be like new wine skins - expandable, open and ready to receive the Holy Spirit. But this without throwing away the old wine skins, old memories… Balance requires continual effort… Balance requires prayer….

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Brendan McGuckin
Member
Brendan McGuckin(@brendan-mcguckin)
21 days ago

Thank you for enlightening the Scriptures with the use of the statue-helps embed the message

Maurizio Milito
Member
Maurizio Milito(@maurizio)
22 days ago

Mi è piaciuto il commento al vangelo.

Carmel Richmond
Member
Carmel Richmond(@carmel)
22 days ago

What an excellent site!

Stephen Pigott
Member
Stephen Pigott(@stephen)
22 days ago

Thank you Patrick for showing us this beautiful statue. I think it extraordinary that we can celebrate with the groom and bride as at a marriage feast. we can forget this when we see so many problems. Thank you for highlighting ‘Celebration’, for me.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
22 days ago

Stunning statue.

Silvia Moiron
Member
Silvia Moiron(@silvya)
22 days ago

Equilibrio- Sabiduría- Espíritu Santo, con esfuerzo de oración. Gracias Patrick!

Last edited 22 days ago by Silvia Moiron
spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
22 days ago

There is real balance in the statue! And at that base it has a prop to hold it up. We all need propping up when we’re out of balance. Morning all- hope you all have a good week!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
22 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

How true! Morning – and blessings to you, and all the community.

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