New Wine, New Wineskins

Luke 5: 33-39
Colo 1: 15-20 / Psa 100

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 him, “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 of the bridegroom fast while he 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.’ ” (Luke 5:33-39)

Reflection

Jesus told the Jews that He was bringing a new Covenant (new wine) to replace the old. He knew that there would be great resistance to His teachings, because the people preferred “the old wine”. He said, “Yet no one who has tasted old wine is eager to get new wine, but says: ‘The old is good.’ (Lk.5:39) In the same way, our instinct is to resist when we are confronted with change, like modern technology that requires time and effort to learn. When I bought our first computer for my eldest son who was then in highschool, he was able to convince me to learn “Wordstar”, a simple pc program that I found very useful and practical in my writing. Not long after, “Windows” came along, and it took him a little longer to convince me that “Wordstar” was on the way to obsolescence, and it was time to shift to “Microsoft Word”. Am I glad that my son was a patient teacher to me!

In today’s Gospel, the message Jesus is telling us is that in order to understand this New Life in the Spirit, we must undergo a transformation, a renewal of our way of thinking, shedding the old skin of prejudice, self-centeredness and fear. The Gospel is offering us something entirely new, a new way of thinking, a new way of treating others, of understanding life better through the Good News of God’s Word. This new wine is God’s call to conversion — to love one another, to pray constantly, to seek justice for the poor, to forgive one another, to take up our cross when we follow Him.

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 Christ’s ‘new wine’ 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 present the Gospel in a way that people in our workplaces today are able to understand it, and accept it as a new way of Life in the 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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