Today’s Gospel: Matthew 9:14-17
Even when people think they desire inner transformation, they really don’t. They might repent with their mouths but fall back into old patterns. Deep down man likes to think he is right, above criticism and becomes defensive or blame others for our weaknesses when we are challenged. Generally speaking, people dislike change and especially dislike the nonconformists who challenge their old ways of thinking and behaving.
The Pharisees are no different in today’s Gospel reading as they criticize the disciples of Jesus for not fasting. These religious experts want the disciples to conform to their spiritual practices, to follow the old ways, This is impossible because the spiritual regime of the Pharisees is not rooted in the new revelations taught and lived out by the Son of God and his followers but in the Law of the Old Testament.
To illustrate the dangers of trying to adapt to this new way of living in the Spirit to the old way of living under the Law, Jesus relates two examples, two mini-parables to explain. A new piece of cloth that is not preshrunk will tear away from an old cloak if it is used to patch a hole. New wine will burst old wineskins. The old life under the Law did not save anyone; it cannot simply be patched up. No, the new vibrant life in Christ will burst the old belief system that forced people to strive to be perfect with their own works ushering in a whole new way of life in Christ. It is a life which shares in the life of the resurrected Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit; it is a life which shatters life lived under the burden of the Law and the curse of Adam and Eve.
How do I cling to old patterns when God is calling me to embrace new ways of living, thinking, and praying?
God, shatter my old wineskins and give me the grace to become a new wineskin so I might contain your Holy Spirit.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.