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Preserving New Wine
Monday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to him 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I rejoice at your presence and praise you for the ways in which you renew me with your grace.
- Jesus the Bridegroom: Jesus uses the bridegroom motif in his response to questions about why his disciples do not fast when John the Baptist’s and the Pharisee’s disciples do. This motif most adequately gives context to the relational quality of his person and his coming. He is the bridegroom who unites in a perfect way the human and divine. The union between God and man is complete in his person. And his mission to make way for the rest of us to be in full and loving communion with God will find its consummation on the cross in his total self-gift to the Father on our behalf.
- Rejoice!: Fasting is associated with deprivation of earthly things for the sake of putting God back in the center of our lives. It is also associated with a spirit of reparation. Jesus says that the day will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast. But until then, the bridegroom is in their midst. God is present and that is reason to rejoice. Until the final consummation of our union with God, we traverse through dark valleys and high peaks. We both fast and rejoice, entering into that dynamic through the liturgical year and through the daily mass. We fast to prepare ourselves to receive the bridegroom in the Eucharist. And we rejoice in his presence at every Holy Mass. As pilgrims on a journey, our task of faith is to recognize both the need to fast and the reason to rejoice.
- Be New: After Jesus’s death, he reveals his resurrected and glorified body, a sign of the newness to come for us when we will live in the fullness of God’s life eternally. Until then, we live the “already, but not yet” tension. I receive “new wine,” the life of grace in my soul, but the fullness of union and happiness is yet to come. I must take care to preserve this “new wine”: a conversion experience; a fresh break from vice; a new habit of virtue being formed; a conscience that is beginning to recognize the voice of God; a pure heart that seeks to love God above all else. What are the wineskins in my life that destroy or protect that new wine?
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you are the “bridegroom of my soul” in the sense that you call me to a total union with you, beginning with the indwelling of the Trinity. Help me to recognize any way in which I may spoil that gift. Give me courage to protect and defend that gift. And in your presence, may I rejoice!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will name the “old wineskin” that needs to be replaced by a new wineskin and ask the Holy Spirit for the courage to change.
For Further Reflection:
- Prayers for encouragement when starting afresh and going forward in new trust and hope: Isaiah 41:10, Psalms 25:4-10, 1 Peter 5:6-8, Proverbs 3:5-6.
- Developing a Clear Vision in Life: https://media.ascensionpress.com/video/developing-a-clear-vision-in-life/.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala.