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Liturgical day: Saturday 13th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Gen 27:1-5.15-29): When Isaac was so old that his eyesight had failed him, he called his older son Esau and said to him, «Son!». «Yes father!», he replied. Isaac then said, «As you can see, I am so old that I may now die at any time. Take your gear, therefore —your quiver and bow— and go out into the country to hunt some game for me. With your catch prepare an appetizing dish for me, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my special blessing before I die». Rebekah had been listening while Isaac was speaking to his son Esau. So, when Esau went out into the country to hunt some game for his father, Rebekah [then] took the best clothes of her older son Esau that she had in the house, and gave them to her younger son Jacob to wear; and with the skins of the kids she covered up his hands and the hairless parts of his neck. Then she handed her son Jacob the appetizing dish and the bread she had prepared.

Bringing them to his father, Jacob said, «Father!». «Yes?», replied Isaac. «Which of my sons are you?». Jacob answered his father: «I am Esau, your first-born. I did as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your special blessing». But Isaac asked, «How did you succeed so quickly, son?». He answered, «The Lord, your God, let things turn out well with me». Isaac then said to Jacob, «Come closer, son, that I may feel you, to learn whether you really are my son Esau or not». So Jacob moved up closer to his father. When Isaac felt him, he said, «Although the voice is Jacob's, the hands are Esau's» (He failed to identify him because his hands were hairy, like those of his brother Esau; so in the end he gave him his blessing). Again he asked Jacob, «Are you really my son Esau?». «Certainly», Jacob replied.

Then Isaac said, «Serve me your game, son, that I may eat of it and then give you my blessing». Jacob served it to him, and Isaac ate; he brought him wine, and he drank. Finally his father Isaac said to Jacob, «Come closer, son, and kiss me». As Jacob went up and kissed him, Isaac smelled the fragrance of his clothes. With that, he blessed him saying, «Ah, the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field that the Lord has blessed! May God give to you of the dew of the heavens and of the fertility of the earth abundance of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations pay you homage; be master of your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you».
Responsorial Psalm: 134
R/. Praise the Lord for the Lord is good!
Praise the name of the lord; praise, you servants of the Lord who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, which we love; for the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his own possession.

For I know that the Lord is great; our Lord is greater than all gods. All that the Lord wills he does in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all the deeps.
Verscicle 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.