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New Wineskins – JesuitPrayer.Org

July 8, 2017

Mt 9: 14-17

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Old Wineskins

The warning in today’s Gospel not to put new wine into old wineskins is one that made sense to Jesus’s followers, but requires some interpretation today. New wine was placed in a wineskin, and the fermentation process stretched out the skin. The skin lost its elasticity, so a second round of fermentation (with new wine) would cause it to burst.  
Why does Jesus tell John’s disciples this parable in response to a question about fasting? The old wineskins refer to the laws of God’s covenant with the Israelites. The many regulations were good, but with Jesus’s coming, they are passing away. Jesus and his teachings are the new wine, which cannot be wedged into the old understanding of the laws of the Pharisees. Jesus comes to bring about a new kingdom, and his message needs to be lived out through a new way of thinking.  
In our lives today, following Jesus more fully may require us to make a change. What are the old wineskins we need to let go of in order to allow Jesus to fill us?
—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, help us to let go of the ideas, habits, and practices that keep us from a deeper relationship with you. Open our hearts so that we can be new wineskins, ready to receive your love and your grace. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team

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