The daily Gospel reading from the Mass for Saturday of the 12th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 9:14-17.

John the Baptist, a virile ascetic who preached in the harsh desert, practiced mortification of the mind and body (including fasting) to prepare for the coming of the Bridegroom (John 3:29). The Baptist, having heroically denounced King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, is imprisoned and will be killed for defending the sacredness of marriage. The Baptist’s followers practice fasting, but seeing that Christ’s disciples do not, come to Christ for guidance.

Like the Baptist fasted, Christ fasted (for 40 days! – Matt 4:2), underscoring the importance of fasting/mortifying the body. The Baptist had called Jesus “the Bridegroom” (John 3:29), referring to God’s spousal commitment to His people (Is 54:5-8).  Christ, confirming the astounding truth that He is God/the Bridegroom, instructs His disciples to enjoy His presence without fasting until His Passion and to fast and mourn afterwards.

Christ exhorts the Baptist’s disciples to make a complete break with the Old Covenant and give themselves completely to Him. In veiled terms, Christ’s metaphor of new wine/old wineskins mysteriously points to the outpouring of mercy in His Blood in Eucharistic wine. Ominously, the metaphors also warn of the destructiveness of not giving one’s self completely to Christ (i.e. being torn or burst).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ reveals that He is the Bridegroom.  Divine Teacher, Christ uses enduring metaphors (wineskins, patching an old cloak) to draw disciples into deeper reflection.  Divine Prophet, Christ alludes to His Passion (Bridegroom will be taken away) and warns that half-measures have bad consequences.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel that in just a few short words, Christ’s powerful metaphor of the wineskins vividly teaches about the need to embrace New Covenant but is also a mysterious prophecy of the Blood/Wine of the Eucharist.

2) Modern society has desacralized marriage, celebrating single-motherhood, being “partners”, endorsing divorce and legalizing homosexual “marriage.” Strengthen your understanding of the enduring beauty and truth of Marriage in God’s Plan (CCC 1601-1620) and meditate on how John the Baptist died defending marriage and how Christ elevates the sacredness of Marriage by His revelation of Himself as “Bridegroom” and the Church as His bride.

3) In contrast to Christ’s emphasis on fasting, the modern culture is obsessed with eating and drinking (e.g. fast food, food porn, binge drinking, etc.) and many men are stuck in the deadly sin of gluttony (CCC 1866). Renew your commitment to regular fasting (CCC 538,1434, 2043) and pray for Christ to help you persevere in fasting as a sacrifice to build spiritual “muscle.”

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead