Daily Reflection – 9/6/19
The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'” (Luke 5: 33-39)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers all those present a challenge. Both images – the cloth and the wineskins – emphasize the idea that in order to embrace his message we need to think “outside the box”.
It is so tempting to criticize and judge others on the basis of what we “see and observe.” This is exactly what the Pharisees do in today’s Gospel. In their eyes, Jesus should be more ascetical. He should be more like John the Baptist, eating locusts and wild honey!! We all have our own standards of what we think is best and how others should act. However, I assume that most of us don’t appreciate it when another person criticizes or judges us simply by observing our behavior!
Jesus invites his listeners to look at the situation in a different way. He tells them that he is doing something new. Are we open to the “new” that Jesus may be inviting us to? This may be an uncomfortable invitation. Like the Pharisees, I can get comfortable with the way things have always been. I may be tempted to criticize another person who is not doing things the way I think they “should” be done. Jesus is challenging the Pharisees, and us, to be “open” to other ways of doing things. He is challenging them not to judge others so quickly. Today may we be mindful of not “jumping to judgment!”
To follow Christ and his “Good News” truly, we need to leave behind what St. Paul called the “old self” in order to be new creatures in Christ (Colossians 3:9-10). For the Pharisees, that would have meant leaving behind their strict formalism and judgmental attitude. For Levi and his friends, it meant abandoning their worldliness and sinful lifestyle. Making a break with our old self is difficult – the “old wine” is what we’re used to – but we have to take the step of recognizing in what our old self consists and deciding to leave that behind to embrace Christ’s message, which is always challenging, ever new.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Help me to seek you earnestly in prayer and fasting that I may turn away from sin and willfulness and conform my life more fully to your will. May I always find joy in knowing, loving, and serving you.
The Lord gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new. He doesn’t want us to hold rigidly to the past and to be resistant to the new work of his Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants our minds and hearts to be like the new wine skins — open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Are you eager to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word and plan for your life?