“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.” Luke 5:33-39
This Gospel reading really struck home as just moments before I had received an unexpected call from someone about to enter a mandated rehab program. Knowing that I was to speak with this young man later, I found myself considering both the change offered in the new wine and the comfort he has found in the old wineskin. Was he really ready to accept a dissimilar mode of intoxication, a radical way of moving through the life he had been accustomed to? Or was this opportunity to be lost, unable to be readily accepted in the worn and toughened shell he conveyed?
Whether we choose to admit it or not, his story is not unlike our own. For, so too our daily choices in life help to fashion the shape and degree of flexibility of our own wineskins to accept the transformative message of the Gospel. The constricting nature of many of our decisions can leave us feeling either trapped in a life not of our choosing or content with an accustomed conformity with what is known.
And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new,
for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
And yet, how much sweeter is the promised new wine that Christ has in store for each of us! Even though spiritual conditioning, prayer and reflection may have softened the skin, we may not be ready to accept the total conversion of heart that is required. Instead we seem perplexed when seeking to take a bit of new wine and mix it with the old it does not blend well. Leaving us dissatisfied and wondering if we should have tried to change at all. Why is this? Well, quite simply, the life altering message of Christ does not fit into old destructive behaviors, or is it content with half-hearted measures with no conviction. This new wine holds the assurance of new life and new possibilities that can only be received when we are willing to give up conformity for conversion.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Blessed Mother Teresa
† Where in my life have I become stiffened and resistant to change? Is the pull of temptation, addictions, or conformity to the world keeping me from even desiring the new life God has waiting for me? Am I satisfied with observing empty practices or am I seeking greater meaning in my life today?