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Liturgical day: Saturday 13th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Amos 9:11-15): Thus says the Lord: «On that day I will raise up the fallen hut of David; I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old. That they may conquer what is left of Edom and all the nations that shall bear my name, say I, the Lord, who will do this. Yes, days are coming, says the Lord, when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the vintager, him who sows the seed; the juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it. I will bring about the 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. I will plant them upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked from the land I have given them, say I, the Lord, your God».
Responsorial Psalm: 84
R/. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
I will hear what God proclaims; the Lord, for he proclaims peace to his people. Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land.

Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.

The Lord himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 10:27): Alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mt 9,14-17): John's disciples came to Jesus and said, «How is it that we and the Pharisees fast on many occasions, but not your disciples?». Jesus answered them, «How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast. No one patches an old coat with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for the patch will shrink and tear an even bigger hole in the coat. Besides you don't put new wine in old wineskins. If you do, the wineskins will burst and the wine be spilt. No, you put new wine in fresh skins; then both are preserved».

«Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them»

Fr. Joaquim FORTUNY i Vizcarro
(Cunit, Tarragona, Spain)

Today, we see how Jesus brought new times with him and a new doctrine, which He taught with authority; and we also realize how, as usual with new things, they clash with prevailing praxis and environment. Thus, in the pages preceding today's Gospel, we see Jesus forgiving the paralytic of his sins and healing his disease while the scribes are shocked; or, Jesus telling Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him, and eating with him and other publicans and sinners, while the Pharisees were “going up the walls”; and, in today's Gospel, John's disciples are the ones to approach Jesus, because they do not understand that He and his disciples do not fast.

Jesus, who never leaves anyone without an answer, replies: «How can you expect wedding guests to mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? Time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, then they will fast» (Mt 9:15). Fasting was, and still is, a penitential practice «which prepares us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart» (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2043) and requests the Divine Mercy. But in those moments, God's infinite mercy and love was amidst them with Jesus' presence, the Incarnated Verb. How could they fast? There was only one possible attitude: joy, while enjoying the presence of God made man. How could they fast when Jesus had discovered for them a new way to relate to God, a new spirit that was breaking all those old manners and customs?

Today Jesus is here: «And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age» (Mt 28:20), and He is not because He went back to his Father, and thus, we cry out: Come, O Lord Jesus!.

We are living times of expectation. This is why it is convenient to renew ourselves every day with the new spirit of Jesus, to give up our old routines, to abstain from what may prevent us from advancing towards a full identification of Christ, towards sanctity. «Fair is our crying —our fasting— if we have a burning desire to see him» (St. Augustine).

We pray the Virgin Mother to grant us the grace we need to live the joy of knowing we are her beloved children.