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Youth Ministry Resources - 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year B: Mk 2:18-22 - The bridegroom is still with them - 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Over the last couple of weeks we have heard Jesus subjected to a number of controversies where Jesus has exhibited not only the power of his teaching but also the difference between his teaching "with authority" and the teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees. Undoubtedly, Mark's community were facing similar controversies as they continued to live out the teachings of Jesus which were becoming more and more at odds with the Jewish authorities of their time.

The challenge thrown at Jesus regards fasting. In the early stages of the ministry of Jesus many Pharisees were attracted to the teaching of Jesus however, they soon claimed that he was too lax in observing the Law as they interpreted it and they objected to his consorting with sinners and outcasts.

In response to any suggestion of laxity, Jesus draws on the Hebrew Scriptural depiction of the messianic bridegroom, a title Jesus gladly claims as his self- description to support his claim of the unique character of this time of his earthly ministry.

Palestinian weddings during the time of Jesus were grand events, lasting a number of days where there was an abundance of food and wine. It was a time when everyone was assured of a good feed so Jesus draws on this common experience to show the inappropriateness of fasting by his followers. The need to fast has been superseded by the Incarnation - God-with-us and it was only after the ascension of Jesus that the early church introduced fast as a form of penitence while awaiting the parousia or 'end time' when Jesus would return.

Just as the Pharisees were happy to accept Jesus on their terms, we too can try and 'sanitise' Jesus so that he fits into 'our style' of God. However, anyone who reads the Scriptures soon realises that Jesus cannot be sanitised and that Jesus is a most radical teacher, a teacher preaching a God of mercy, and a Saviour who will challenge our interpretation of the laws of the church today to see God's Spirit of the law is followed.

It is very easy to become bound by the letter of various encyclicals or canons and completely miss the intention or spirit of that instruction. Whatever and whenever the Church teaches, the intention is to bring life to God's people, not to bind and constrict them. Just as the cloth and wineskin can be destroyed by forcing the new on the old, even today we experience a similar tension between the claims of tradition and those of a Gospel ever new.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time