1 Samuel 15:16-23
Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.
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.”
Good News Reflection:
Do you know why we have mornings? Why do we need to go to sleep and wake up every day, day after day?
Mornings are a sign of God’s great mercy! He gives us new opportunities to make a fresh start every 24 hours. When I was a child, one of the greatest lessons my father taught me was to never make important decisions at night, because the view is clearer and brighter in the morning.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus reminds us that if we pour new wine into old wineskins, the skins burst and we lose everything. Think of the new spiritual growth that you’ve experienced lately. Are you trying to pour your new life into old ways of doing things? I hope not, because this works as successfully as giving a pig a bath — it will always return to its mud. It’s like making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and then stocking your kitchen with sweets. It’s like reading the lives of Saints and then admiring the heroes on television who win their goals using immoral methods.
Less obvious but more significant, it’s like following God’s commands the way King Saul did (in today’s first reading), starting out in the right direction but making compromises along the way and opting to sin.
When we set out on the right path (e.g., doing God’s will, listening well for his guidance, purifying our behaviors, and working hard to avoid sin), it’s appropriate to pat ourselves on the back for our spiritual maturity. But the sound of the pat-pat-patting easily distracts us from the quiet voice of God as he tells us what to do or learn next. We become complacent. The day ends but we get stuck in the dark night, because our decisions hold us back from following Christ into new mornings.
In our earthly pilgrimage to heaven, there’s no such thing as sitting still. Evil forces and our natural inclinations toward sin always tempt us louder and stronger whenever we’re not putting real effort into moving closer to God. We slide back into old ways and wrong paths, perhaps so slowly and subtly that we don’t notice, or with sudden bursts of old desires and faulty logic that overwhelm us.
To enjoy the new wine of spiritual growth, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. To do this, we have to remain ever aware that we’re always in danger of straying onto the wrong path, the old path, the self-centered path, the prideful path. We need to remain ever aware that unless God is helping us, we are going to slip back into old ways again at any moment.
This is why we need mornings. No matter what we did yesterday, each awakening gives us new opportunities to turn away from yesterday’s old wineskins and embrace the life of holiness anew. We can receive Jesus in the new wine of his Eucharistic Blood (ahhh, the blessings of being able to attend Daily Mass!) and choose to stay with him wherever he leads.
Jesus, You are my joy and hope. You are the fresh air I need to live. Thank You for leading me to a new life. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica