The Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time is Luke 5:33-39. 

The Pharisees and scribes, sensing that Christ is a threat, have begun to attack Him because He does not conform to the Pharisees’ rigid rules. They confront Jesus, asserting that John the Baptist’s disciples and the Pharisees both fast, while Jesus and His disciples do not; implying that Jesus is a false teacher. The Pharisees’ duplicitous use of John the Baptist as an example telegraphs their evil intent: they hated the Baptist because he called them a “brood of vipers” (Matt 3:7).   

Christ’s response to the Pharisees’ question about fasting is stunning; He responds by justifying His disciples’ lack of fasting because they are in the presence of God. Christ’s mysterious referral to the Bridegroom certainly shocked the learned Pharisees and scribes (experts in the Old Testament) who would have immediately realized that Christ was comparing Himself to God and His spousal relationship with Israel (Is 54:5-8). Jesus also instructs His disciples to enjoy His presence without fasting until His Passion and to fast and mourn afterwards.

Christ uses veiled metaphors to describe the complete break from the Pharisees’ views of the Old Covenant necessary to become disciples of Christ’s New Covenant; those who do not give themselves completely to the New Covenant are warned of dire consequences (e.g. being torn or burst). The metaphor of new wine/old wineskins also mysteriously points to the outpouring of mercy in His Blood in the wine of the Eucharist.

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

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s public ministry lasts for three years, during which the Jewish leaders continuously plot to kill Him. Marvel at how Christ strategically uses mysterious references (like the Bridegroom) to thwart the Jewish leaders efforts to murder Him until the time and place of His choosing. 

2) Many Catholic men are estranged from the Church, disgusted by homosexual priests, priest sex crimes and bishop coverups; despite the sins of some clergy, Christ continues to love His Church, like a bridegroom loves his bride. Reflect upon Christ the Bridegroom (CCC 219, 796, 867) and pray for The Bridegroom help you grow in love and fidelity to His Bride, the Church, during times of grave scandal. 

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.”