The Gospel according to 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.”
Reflection: We will normally do anything to keep our old process from falling apart, yet this is when we need patience and guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening our controls and saying “No”. I am referring to “change”. Sometimes allowing change in our life could be hard but it’s a transformation that is for the better if we embrace it.
The word “change” normally refers to new beginnings in this age of our lives. The pain of something old falling apart invites the soul to listen at a deeper level, and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place. This change or transformation always includes a confusing re-orientation. The difference is determined precisely by the quality of our inner life, our practices, our openness, our wisdom, and our spirituality. Change happens but transformation is always a process of letting go, living in the confusing, shadowy space for a while. But isn’t that how we grow?
Last weekend, Connie and I went to see the movie “A Man called Otto” with Tom Hanks. It was about the life of this elderly man who had lost his wife and he struggle with the things he did in his younger years with her. He didn’t want to change and let go. It took a young couple, their family, and a cat who he befriended to change his heart.
Jesuit theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) would pray this:
When the signs of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind); when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me off strikes from without or is born within me; when the painful moment comes in which I suddenly awaken to the fact that I am ill or growing old; and above all at that last moment when I feel I am losing hold of myself and am absolutely passive within the hands of the great unknown forces that have formed me; in all those dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is You (provided only my faith is strong enough) who are painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within Yourself.
In moments of uncertainty and crisis, it’s having the ability to keep an opened mind, accepting what is presented to us, and trust in our faith by being able to say “YES”. It’s someone or something in whom we absolutely believe in or to whom we commit to so we could embrace this change. You can start this process with a simple smile and allowing that fine wine to be put into the fresh wineskins.
Action of the Day: Contemplate the things that are hard for you to change. It could be a new process at work, or something your children are doing, or a new process in the ritual of the mass. Now think about how you dealt with it. Did you accept it? Or not? If you didn’t, how is it working for you now? What would you have done differently to handled it?