July 4, 2020 –
Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
“Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”
It’s the disciples of St. John the Baptist—and not the saint himself—who appear and speak in today’s Gospel passage. Nonetheless, today’s passage offers us similarities and contrasts between these two cousins: one of them the voice of the Word, and the other the Word made Flesh.
One of the more obvious contrasts concerns fasting, and the fact that John’s disciples fast while Jesus’ do not. But John’s disciples misunderstand the reason for this difference. They misunderstand the relationship between John and Jesus. Perhaps they thought of them as two equally inspiring religious figures. Perhaps they thought of them as two equally valid paths leading to God’s righteousness.
In fact, John leads to Jesus. John himself preached this clearly, but his disciples did not hear John clearly.
The last four sentences of today’s Gospel passage offer two mini-parables as a way to see these differences between John and Jesus. Jesus is the new wine that must be poured into new wineskins. This parable echoes His first public miracle at Cana [John 2:1-12]. To follow Jesus, a new approach to God must be accepted. To be a disciple means to follow John in the constant need for penance and repentance.