By Gilbert Moises, BCBP Cebu South
“Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, 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.”
This passage has always been about change, transformation and renewal. Homilies of priests during masses usually focus in that direction. Jesus came so that we may see the light. John the Baptist cries out in the desert, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!”
But the last passage bothered me for it says, “No one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.”‘ If the old is good, why change? So, I asked.
I searched for a deeper meaning and understanding but could not find one. A priest I consulted was not helpful because instead of helping me in my search, he advised me not to dwell on trivial questions but on the more important things in life. Then came first Friday Mass of September 2014 with this passage as the gospel. The priest surprisingly veered away from the usual transformation stuff about new wineskin or new cloth. He talked about the last verse, “the old is good”. I was transfixed. I said to myself, “Lord, are you talking to me?”
The priest went on to describe how the old traditions have slowly disappeared and are no longer prevalent in these times. The young ones are no longer expressive of their love and respect for the elders. We miss the days when church bells ring at 6 pm and we all stopped to pray the Angelus and offer our silent prayers. Children don’t bless the hands of the older folks nor greet them with a kiss or a hug. No one says, “Good evening sir or ma’am” when we our paths cross especially among strangers. Children used to take the brunt of the household chores but they don’t complain because they took it as a privilege to comfort their parents. The slogan ‘Honesty, is the best policy’ is hardly ever heard. We get elated when we are able to outwit one another in traffic situations, in office promotions, in business dealings and even in service.
Jesus himself does not advocate for a total eradication of the old ways. In Matthew 23:23-24, He reminds us to be mindful of the more important things in life when he says “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done without neglecting the others.”
In the brotherhood, we have practices that keep us focused on the Lord. Giving of tithes is an acknowledgment that everything we possess comes from the goodness of the Lord so that we return a portion of this blessing in the form of tithes or pledges. The one-on-one dialogue or our caring system, in general, is a reminder of how God wants us to take care of each other. We are just His instruments, His hands and His feet.
When we get choked with the daily grind of life and work and complain, our elders would not give immediate solutions but would gently ask, “How is your prayer time? What is the Lord telling you? Can we pray some more?”
It is not so much on how we perform our service but why do we do it. Our national leaders reminded us that our service should be based on a “genuine love for Jesus”; everything else will just fall into place. Maybe this is the reason why prayer time became one of our tasks in our last Action Group Meeting.
In Matthew 28: 19-20, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of age.”
Let us not forget the weightier things in life.