Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Mark 2:18-22

"New wine, fresh skins"

The Pharisees used to boast that they fasted twice a week. From today's Gospel passage it would appear that Jesus and his disciples did not observe these days of fasting. By their own rigorous standards the Pharisees regarded Jesus as being far too lax in his attitude to the religious observances and practices of his time and people and not at all worthy to teach others.

But external religious observances can be deceptive. Of themselves they are not a reliable indication of a person's relationship with God. After all, that is something hidden in the innermost part of the soul. The strict observances of the Pharisees do not appear to have opened their hearts to God's love and mercy, nor to have made them particularly loving or merciful to others.

What Jesus offers is utterly new, and demands a new way of living. He did not live among us, die on a cross and rise again, simply to leave us with a new range of external religious observances. He seeks to transform us from within, to share his own risen life with us, to draw us into his own way of loving God and neighbour. This is the rich new wine he offers to us - new life, his own divine life. And the fresh skins? For each of us, a way of everyday living which is firmly rooted in and which gives expression to the life of Christ within us. Such skins are, however, very costly.