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A Lenten Journey of Release & Renewal (Day Five)

Day Five

Scripture: Mark 2:18-22

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, ‘Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

‘No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.’


The Pharisees asked, “Why do your disciples not fast?”

I have seen too many cases of those who claim to be “holy” being judgmental. “Why don’t you do a daily devotional? How much time do you spend on prayer and meditation? Why don’t you read the Scriptures every day? Why don’t you visit the sick and lonely more often? Why can’t you be more generous in giving?” These kinds of judgmental questions do not seem to come from love and kindness. Instead, they sound more like, “I’m torturing myself with these practices because I’m a Christian. Why aren’t you doing the same?” Or, those who fail to acknowledge that everyone’s spiritual journey is different tend to think that what works for them should work for others.

Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees reminds us that what’s more important than fasting is being with him. Henri Nouwen kept emphasizing that for our spiritual practice, being is more important than doing. Whatever we do as our spiritual practice, we do so to walk with the Holy One, not to prove our worth nor to earn the right to judge others.

This, of course, does not necessarily mean only the message matters and practice doesn’t matter. Jesus never diminished the value of fasting. It’s about timing! The new message of love that Jesus proclaimed required a new method of spiritual practice at that time. Instead of fasting, the disciples needed to eat well and have enough energy to travel around the villages to proclaim the Good News. We have to put new wine into fresh wineskins.


  • Considering your life circumstances, what kind of spiritual practice might be suitable for you?

  • What is the new message you received today that requires a new method of delivery?

Prayer / Reflection:

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