Daily Reflection – 9/4/2020
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 wine skins. 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 wine skins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'” (Luke 5: 33-39)
The pandemic has certainly shown us the resilience of humankind. The world that we knew was turned upside down. Daily routines were no longer. Friends and families were suddenly encased behind glass.
We did it because we had no choice. I wonder why when the “had to” is still operable in terms of spiritual life, we nonetheless resist – and sometimes resist vociferously – the need to change. Is it because we think it cam be put off until tomorrow? Is it because we are so set in our approach to our spirituality that we don’t think we need to change? And corollary to the preceding thought, is it because we rigidly believe that our brand of Christianity needs no change?
Yet 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. It’s not unlike dying. It is painful at first. Unless one recognizes himself or herself as a sinner in urgent need of God, there will be no progress, there will be no death to self, there will be no new wine. Recall that, as Christians, we are not here to enjoy constant pleasure or live the life of ease, power and wealth. We must willingly die to those things, for we are here to die for Christ. We are here to unite ourselves to his cross: the way of self-sacrifice and love. The aim and goal of human life is to become one with Jesus Christ and make his story our story. That does not happen overnight. It is a journey that has no end.
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. And just as life changes – sometimes gradually or sometimes monumentally – we have to be a creation in process. As a minister, how saddening it has been for me to confront so many that believe they have arrived . . . so many who belief they have figured “it” out . . . who have formed their opinions and perspective and there is nothing else to change.
So often it is the case that we erect an impervious shelter of pride around ourselves! In doing so, we make of ourselves stationary, immovable and unfeeling boulders, adamantly resistant to the Spirit’s divine impulses. Humility, then, which is the clear recognition of who we really are before God, is key. Is the old wineskin permeated with pride? Throw it out.
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.”
To become a new wine skin, we must become a new person, a new creation. Such a wondrous and saving event, mysterious as it is impossible for us to accomplish by ourselves alone, is brought about only with the help of God and his Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who re-creates, transforms, heals, elevates and purifies. It is the Spirit of Love who re-makes us into a new creation and lifts us on the Divine Wind to heavenly places.