06 July. Saturday of Week 13

1st Reading: Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29

Rebecca disguises Jacob so that blind Isaac gives him the first-born’s blessing.

When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” He said, “See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.” Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau.
Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.
So he went in to his father, and said, “My father”; and he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.” But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said, “Ah, the smell of my so is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

Responsorial: Psalm 134:1-6

Response: Praise the Lord for he is good!

Praise the name of the Lord,
praise him, servants of the Lord,
who stand in the house of the Lord
in the courts of the house of our God. (R./)
Praise the Lord for the Lord is good;
sing a psalm to his name for he is loving.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself
and Israel for his own possession. (R./)
For I know the Lord is great,
that our Lord is high above all gods.
The Lord does whatever he wills,
in heaven, on earth, in the seas. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 9:14-17

The disciples need not fast so long as Jesus, “the bridegroom,” is with them.

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”


New wineskins

How hard it is for us older people to cope with the volume of change in our world. We have experienced so much cultural and social change, legal and even constitutional changes, as well as having to adapt to new technologies, apps on our smartphones, and banks wanting us to do all our business online. It can be tempting to look back on the “Good old Days” until we remember that there were many abuses in those old days, and many good things available to us in the here and now.
But people always had to be ready for change, in order to follow Jesus and take him as a guide for living. The difference between his message and that of John the Baptist is put in homespun imagery. We cannot sew unshrunken cloth–or animal skins that have not been tanned–onto old leather cloaks; the new will shrink and then pull away and the rip will only get worse. If animal skins were used to hold fermenting wine, new skins had the elasticity to stretch, while old skins will burst open and the wine will be lost. This image from everyday life points to a dramatic discontinuity with the past, in Jesus’ preaching and outlook. What began as a finge movement now moves to the centre. There is to be rejoicing, an entirely new cloak rather than an old one with patches, new wineskins for the new wine.
Change provokes various reactions. We must be willing to adapt to the conditions among which God and history have put us. The ways of Providence are surely leading towards a noble, final goal, but they pass through many vagaries of custom and circumstance. We pray to be worthy disciples of Jesus, letting him pour his new wine into new wineskins, and be as realistic as he was, in accepting change.

The bridegroom is with us

Jesus is the bridegroom, and his disciples the bride. His public ministry is like a wedding celebration, when fasting is not appropriate. In keeping with that wedding image, he speaks of the new wine of his ministry, new wine that needs new wineskins.
We are always in the presence of that bridegroom and gifted with his new wine, the wine of grace and of God’s kingdom. So we must cheerfully abandon our old wineskins as obsolete. The Lord, the Spirit, does not let us get too comfortable in our ways. We always stand before the Lord’s call for a renewal of life that is worthy of the bridegroom, a renewal that can receive the new wine of the kingdom of God.


Saint Maria Goretti

Maria Goretti (1890-1902) is an Italian virgin-martyr, and one of the youngest canonized saints. Her father died when she was nine, and the family had to share a house others. When Maria refused to submit to a neighbour’s sexual advances, he stabbed her multiple times. She was was beatified in 1947, and canonized in 1950. Her major shrine is in Nettuno, south of Rome.

Saint Monnine of Killeavy

Monnine from Killeavy in South Armagh Northern Ireland, is one of Ireland’s earliest women saints. Apparently she founded a religious community of women at Sliabh Gullion, Co. Armagh, died 517 or 518.

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