Fr. Abi John.
The prophetic and passionate leadership of Jesus brought a lot of resonance in the socio-economic and political life of Jewish people. His new teachings on law and the hermetic apparatus was so popular among masses because it was very pragmatic. Jesus’s pedagogy always acknowledged his practice and the Expected Messianic Regime apparently was ubiquitous in his words and deeds. The hopeless received hope and were enlightened to discover themselves in a true way of living, grounding their faith in YAWH (the living God).
The affirmative approach of Jesus brought everyone near to God, in other words God became closer to people. Jesus’s expression of “God as Father” shed great light on the understanding of God with a personal touch. Jesus’s hospitable and receptive nature in the context of bigotry and discrimination breached the barriers created by the rigid understanding of Jewish leadership.
God was always scaled on the top of a hierarchical religious paradigm and the gulf between the people and religious leadership was purposefully professed by the Jewish religious brokers to maintain the Status Quo. I feel that normally structures are created to appropriate the life in a given set of society bounded by its culture, tradition, politics, etc. But such structures corrupt themselves when served with vested interest. The Pharisees and Sadducees became the mediators and accelerated their command in the holistic domain of people, and did not reflect their stewardship in helping the people to come closer to God rather alienated people from God. Mediocracy created its own norms and regulations and manipulated God as an unreachable being, which resulted in the purity and pollution laws; eventually ritualism gained its momentum and became a tool to subdue people.
Jesus sitting with the sinners conveyed a new style in the spiritual trajectories of Jewish paradigm. Luke’s theological motif of soteriology is nailed in Jesus’s response to the self-righteous religious leaders, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” exposits the love of God for sinners.
Finding fault and labeling people became the prime duty of such rigid and psychic leaders and their ostentatious attempts were seized by the model of Jesus. Their dialogical and mean attempts to accuse Jesus were devastated by his appropriate questions and responses. When they failed to compete with his ideological or spiritual construct, they were so mean to assault his behavior and way of life. They generated a great antipathy and they were restless. Such methods display their quality and reflect the nature of the establishments. Character assassination is a powerful tool to defame any popular celebrity. Jesus too faced it because he was a super star of his time.
With the above orientation I like to map three verses for our today's bible study: Luke 5:33, 34, 35.
Fasting and Feasting
The following statement, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking” was the accusation on Jesus and his crew as if they were insane. This was an attempt to portray Jesus as an obstreperous and a strange leader. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus registers the pretentious nature of Pharisees while fasting and praying. The Old Testament talks about the act of penitence through fasting and praying a quality of spirituality, I vouch for it, because I feel only when there is abundance one can fast. What about a poor person who slogs for a meal? The meaning to him will be very offensive and rude. The team of Jesus predominantly constitutes poor and for them fasting was a problem, because of their economic variances. As a son of man Jesus’s feasting invites the world to feed the poor with abundance, reflecting the act of God. (Barnie Parker’s reflects God’s face to people). The church is called to prioritize our activities in catering the poor to realize God’s abundance.
“If Jesus is the Bridegroom, who is the Bride?”
I will attempt to explain the above in a figurative methodology through philosophical engagement. This is an analogy of the relationship between Jesus and the people of God. Jesus used similes to convey the meaning very powerfully. Bride - Bridegroom analogy was so powerful in the book of Hosea, Gospels as well as in Solomon's writing. This great relationship is embarked on a family relationship because they considered and believed in the family unit, as an institution of God. Turning the pages to creation will certainly fix our eyes on the sinless life of a couple when they were with God. By mythefiying or imagining the people as bride makes Jesus as bridegroom, a new Adam, a sinless Adam, who mutually feasts on the table of God. The table of Man is always hierarchical, partial and deceitful. I acknowledge that this analogy has its limitations in the eyes of the feminist readers, but when we interpret the text in a context, we can understand that Jesus used an accommodating interpretation in a matriarchal society. Without Jesus we cannot feast? Feasting with Jesus invites us to die for him too. A feasting community with Christ, will feed people with love of God even by self-emptying. The sacramental rituals call us to feast with the lord to pass the abundance of life to all.