This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.
Trust in the Lord and do good,
that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will grant you your heart's requests. (R./)
Commit to the Lord your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication. (R./)
Turn away from evil and do good,
that you may have a home forever;
For the Lord loves what is right,
and forsakes not his faithful ones.
Criminals are destroyed
and the posterity of the wicked is cut off. (R./)
The salvation of the just comes from the Lord;
he is their refuge in time of distress.
And the Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. (R./)
Then they said to Jesus, "John's disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink." Jesus said to them, "You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days."
He also told them a parable: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, "The old is good.'"
What a pity it is when people jump to rash judgment about others. Instead of seeing the good being done by the followers of Jesus, his critics complain that they should be showing more signs of fasting and praying.
Habitual critics never approve what others do, but always find fault. When he heard himself despised by some of the Corinthians Paul says, "It matters little to me whether you or any human court pass judgment on me. The Lord is the one to judge me." This is spiritually true of all of us: we can only be thoroughly judged by God alone. Only the Spirit fully knows the hidden intentions of the human heart.
The Pharisees could not recognise the mysterious divine power in the words and actions of Jesus. They wanted to keep religion under strict control, and were not open to the God of surprises. Trying to put the Gospel message into a new rulebook would be like patching a new garment with old material, or pouring new wine into old wineskins. What Jesus brought was something living and new. To receive it, one must be willing to be surprised by grace.
Methodical people can hold rigidly to a certain way of doing things. If anyone does things differently or break from convention, they get angry and ask why things can't simply be left alone. That's the scenario in today's gospel. The Pharisees ask angrily, 'Why don't you and your disciples follow the same devotional practices as the rest of us?'
Jesus described his project as 'new wine' which always needs new wineskins. This prompts us to welcome his presence in new ways. These new ways will be in some continuity with tradition, but will move beyond it. He brings an energy to us that calls for new ways of being expressed. He is always prompting us to take some new step, to do things differently and better, if we can. We pray to be open to the promptings of the Spirit.