New Cloth Creates Holes

Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

-Matthew 9:14-17


The constant questioning of Jesus by the Pharisees is continued with this question concerning fasting.  Fasting was a symbol of mourning and was a spiritual practice in the Jewish faith.  Jesus answers using examples from life that could be easily understood. His answer basically says that to everything belongs its proper time and its proper place.  When Jesus was with the disciples that was a great time of joy, not the time of mourning that would require fasting.  The time appropriate for fasting would be after the Ascension when he was no longer with them.


I selected this passage to continue the theme of textiles in scripture.  As the verse indicates, putting a new piece of cloth over a hole in an old garment would result in a larger hole occurring.  When God is missing from our lives there is a hole in our garment.  Secular society encourages placing all kinds of fancy new pieces of cloth over this hole.  We may cover the hole with money, technology, or other items we associate with high social status.  The problem is that these items fail to properly patch the hole.  Money can be wasted, technological gadgets always become obsolete and so lose their novelty value, and social fashions change and fade.  These new pieces of cloth shrink away from the hole in our lives and rip an even bigger hole.  This larger hole can only be repaired with prayer, sacraments, and a deep relationship with the one true Lord of All.