New Wineskins for New Wine

Luke 5: 33-39
Col 1:15-20/Ps 100:1-5

No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed as well.
(Luke 5:37)

Nothing will last, but in its place,
The old will be replaced with the new;
Leave the comfort of tested ways,
And choose the path taken by the few.

They said to Jesus, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.” He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ”

Reflection

Ever since Vatican II, we have witnessed some ‘radical’ changes in the traditions of the Catholic Church, especially in the way the Holy Mass is celebrated. For almost 1,500 years, for instance, the Tridentine Mass was the universal form of worship since the time of St. Gregory in the 6th century. It was during the watch of Pope Paul VI that the old Latin rite of the Mass took on a new format, and was celebrated in the language of the country where the diocese was located. I believe the “new wine, new wineskin” principle here may have been invoked. Many Christians now are wondering whether the same principle could someday apply to priests being allowed to marry, especially since the Vatican has allowed married priests from the Evangelical and Anglican denominations who have converted to the Catholic faith to join the clergy. So now, with this special dispensation, we do have married priests in our Church.

Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that in order to understand our New Life in the Spirit, we must undergo a transformation, a renewal in our way of thinking, shedding the old skin of prejudice, doubt, and fear. Today’s Gospel is offering us something entirely different, a new way of thinking, a new way of understanding life better through the Good News of God’s Word. It is not easy to change. The religious leaders in Jesus’ time kept resisting His invitation, even if they were witnesses to His new ways of showing God’s love, and were moved by His teachings. They had grown too comfortable in their traditional ways of worship, and were afraid to try this New Covenant. How about us? Are we prepared to receive the ‘new wine’ of evangelization into our lives? Father Glenn, a Franciscan monk, said, “The New Evangelization is not a new Gospel, but it is a new presentation; new wine, new wineskins.” This is the challenge God is calling us to take: to face these new developments in our Church with complete faith in its leadership, and simply accept it as the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit.

I have come that you might have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10) Thank you, Lord Jesus, for converting me into a ‘new wineskin’ with the ‘new wine’ of Your Word. Grant that I may be bold in sharing this New Life in the Spirit with others. Amen.

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