“The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.”
Gospel Text: (Mark 2:18-22)
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
In Jesus' time, new wine was put in jars or wineskins (usually tanned goat skins). When wine is fresh, it is in a state of fermentation, causing it to bubble and expand and released gases. These gases cause the new and pliable wineskin to stretch and enables it to absorb the expansion of the new wine. To put fresh wine into old wineskin is simply not going to work. The old wineskin has been stretched and is not anymore pliable. It will burst. And so both the wine and the wineskin are lost.
We cannot put new ideas into old mindsets. We cannot get new results with old behaviors. 2016 is here. New year. New wine. New wineskin. The start of a new year is an opportune time for us to reflect on the meaning of Jesus' words in today's Gospel – it is a time to take stock to evaluate where we are and to embrace new directions. We can't put new ideas into old mind-sets.
So how do we get these new wineskins which will enable our "newness" to emerge?
Christ is the new wine, able to transform us in ways yet unknown or sometimes unimaginable. If we try to contain this radical way of life to the routines, behaviors and thoughts of our previous life, or to those of our society, all can be lost. We need new structures, new ways of doing things to be able to fully witness Christ to those most in need in our world.