Patches & Wineskins

Luke 5: 33-39
1 Cor 4: 1-5 / Ps 37: 3-6, 27-28, 39-40

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.

(The scribes and Pharisees) 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 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 one of my sisters bought our mother her first mobile phone so that she could text or call any of her eleven children and 36 grandchildren, she was hesitant at first to use this strange little contraption until we convinced her of its usefulness and practicality. Since I was her office roommate, I became the official instructor to help familiarize her with all the intricate workings of “that little imp” that refused to cooperate with the fingers of an 80-year old woman. It took a month of patient instruction and a radical change of perspective for her to join the space age that she finally “befriended” her cellphone. Afterwards, she bought an upgraded unit.

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.

One Response to “Patches & Wineskins”

  1. geeme68  on September 7th, 2012

    Very nice and helpful insights bro…. may the Holy Spirit illuminate your mind and heart even more so that many others will benefit thru this blog. Let the all the glory be the Lord’s!