Superficial religiosity

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And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

Reading: Luke 5:33-39

The Pharisees confront Jesus about a specific issue: fasting. Their question is why his disciples do not fast. But the Lord turns that question around and makes us think about why the Pharisees did fast.
The Law ordered an annual fast, the “Day of Atonement”, but they fasted twice a week, that is, much more than what the Law required. And not only that, they fasted to be considered super spiritual and obedient before the rest of the people. They did not fast for their spiritual health, or in search of God, but to be seen.
The Lord confronts them with this attitude. Why do you fast?
The message of Jesus is absolutely incompatible with a religiosity based on rites, gestures, or appearances.
The New Covenant that Jesus makes with men on the Cross does not change rites, or forms, it changes and transforms hearts. And it is so opposed to the way the Pharisees practiced their faith that the Lord compares it to trying to use elements that do not get along with each other, that are naturally different.
Christianity has often been reduced to rites, to human commandments, but the Lord transforms our hearts, our interior. And that changes our motivations, the cause for which we do things, not just the superficial.

MEDITATE:
Our practices of faith, such as praying, reading the Scriptures, attending meetings with the brethren… Are they motivated by a superficial obedience or by the work of the Spirit of the Lord in our lives? Is there freshness and sincere joy in our experience of Christ?

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