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Today’s Reading: Mark 2:13-22

13 He went out again beside the sea; and all the crowd gathered about him, and he taught them. 14 And as he passed on, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.15 And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 16And the scribes of h the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”18 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?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.”

Today’s Commentary:

Eating with sinners: Table-fellowship was symbolic of personal acceptance and mutual friendship in the ancient Near East. Jesus’ open association with outcasts thus violates the standards of the Pharisees, who regarded sinners and tax collectors as inappropriate company for the religious Jew. They clung to Old Covenant standards of holiness that required Israelites to separate themselves from all sources of uncleanness, including fellowship with Gentiles (Acts 10:28). Jesus exemplifies New Covenant holiness, which extends mercy to everyone in imitation of the Father (Mt 5:43-48;Mark 2:21-22 – Because the Old Covenant has become like an old garment and old wineskins, the New Covenant can neither be stitched to its worn fibers nor poured into its brittle skins. Rather, the fasting and anticipation of the Old Covenant must give way to the feasting and celebration of the New Covenant that Jesus brings into the world.