The Gospel according to Luke (Luke 5:33-39)
And they said to him, “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 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.’”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for this opportunity to be with you in prayer. Increase my faith, hope, and love so that I may receive that which you wish to give, and give that which you wish to receive. I bring myself and the people entrusted to my intercession to this time of prayer and ask you to bless us.
Encountering Christ: This short parable comes at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He just called Levi, the tax collector, to become one of His disciples, and then Levi invited Jesus to dine at his home with other tax collectors and sinners. When the scribes and Pharisees saw this, they objected and challenged our Lord. In response, Jesus tells this parable as a way of explaining that He came to call everyone to change and to experience a new transformation of their life.
The “new wine” spoken of in this parable is the grace poured forth from the Cross. Remember that blood and water sprung forth from His side as He hung upon the Cross. This has been symbolically understood as the grace and mercy given to us from the Cross, which is transmitted today through the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Baptism transforms us into a new creation, and, as a new creation in Christ, we must desire the new wine of the Most Holy Eucharist so as to be daily transformed by our Lord.
Many of the Church Fathers point out that the “old wine” that many prefer is a reference to those who wanted to continue living according to the old law. This is especially true of the scribes and Pharisees to whom Jesus was speaking this parable. Jesus was bringing them a new teaching and preparing them for a new grace. But they rejected it, preferring the old life they were living.
One thing this tells us is that if we are to receive this new wine of the grace of God, we must be ready and willing to abandon our old selves and become new. Change can be hard. Even as evangelized Christians who are already living in the grace of Christ, we will be continually called to a deeper and deeper change in our lives. Too often we can easily become complacent and content with the life we are living. When that happens, it will hinder our Lord from pouring the new wine of His grace into our souls in ongoing superabundance.
How do you deal with change in life? If you want to grow in holiness, you can be certain that change is the only constant in life. We must become new creations each and every day, growing, being more fully transformed, changing our ways, giving up the old and embracing that which is ever new. This requires a certain amount of courage as we come face-to-face with the daily need to be changed by grace. It means daily death to our old self and daily becoming a new creation in God.
Closing Prayer: I marvel at the salvific plan you began to unfold immediately upon the fall of our first parents. You patiently prepared our hearts to let us see our need for you. Then in the fullness of time, you came among us as one of us, the very Son of God became our brother and Redeemer. I see your salvific work played out in my own personal life. You let me see my weakness, and still, you come to my aid. How wonderful you are!
Action: Lord, today by your grace I will take time to remember how you have been at work in my life and express my gratitude.