Thursday, September 03, 2015

Called to the New

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  (Colossians 1:15a)

And (Jesus) 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 5:36-39)

Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love like You
Open my heart Lord
Help me to love.
(from Open My Eyes, Lord, Jesse Manibusan)

You’d think the Pharisees would get tired of trying to entrap Jesus, but they’re like Energizer Bunnies on that score.  They’re back again, this time asking Jesus why his disciples don’t fast like they do.  Why don’t they follow the law like we do?  Jesus talks about the bridegroom being with the disciples and asks who would fast while a celebration was underway.  There will be plenty of time for that later.  I doubt the Pharisees had the slightest inkling what Jesus was talking about.

Basically, Jesus is doing something new.  And, by way of two parables, he makes the point that the old and the new don’t go together very well.  Take a brand new piece of cloth and use it as a patch on an old garment and see what happens.  First of all, it’s not going to be pleasing to the eye.  Second, if you’ve ever sewn anything from scratch, you know that you have to preshrink some materials and straighten them before you do anything else.  Leave those steps out and whatever you’re creating will shrink and not hang straight.  So, your new patch may shrink and, as it does, pull on the old cloth till it tears.  In a similar fashion, Jesus outlines why new wine and old goatskins don’t go together.  The old skins are dry.  As the wine ages and ferments, it expands, but the skins don’t, and you end up losing both a goatskin and some wine.
Jesus finishes his story about wine by saying that most people prefer the old to the new.

And that takes us right back to the Pharisees.  It’s a whole lot easier to continue the old way of checking off all the prescribed rituals than to open one’s heart to all that Jesus says and does.  But maybe Jesus is speaking to you and me as well, because sometimes we practice our faith as though ticking off items like going to Mass, taking the kids to CCD, etc., on a checklist is all we need to do.  The truth is Jesus wants every bit of us, especially our hearts.  He hopes we will be open to new things, will be willing to have our hearts stretched, and will be gradually conformed to his image. 

We were created in God’s image, and Paul says that “Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God.”  Growing into that image is what our faith journey is all about, the lifelong process of becoming friends with Jesus; acknowledging that God is Lord of all, no matter how often we may act to the contrary; living for others; being generous, kind, merciful and forgiving; being willing to step out of our comfort zones to help the poor and any other of the modern-day “lepers” who exist on the fringes of society.

Where in your life do you feel this gradual conforming to the image of Christ taking place?  Do you sense God seeking to stretch you in any way, maybe calling you to try something new?  Do you find yourself wanting to cling to the old sometimes?   Talk it all over with Jesus in prayer.

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