September 2, 2016
St Paul said, “Brothers and sisters: Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1_Cor_4:1-5
Jesus said, “no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and 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.’” Lk_5:33-39
In the previous chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul was addressing a concern that he had over the fact that the Corinthians were forming factions based on who their favorite evangelist or teacher was. Some preferred Apollos and some preferred Paul’s methods of teaching.
But Paul tells them today that they are not to judge – anyone. Yes, maybe the teaching style of Apollos appealed to some people more than others. But both teachers brought Jesus to everyone, in different ways.
If we were to close our minds to either teacher, and we can think of this from the point of view of the different Gospels, or of our own different priest’s homilies, maybe we’d be losing out on some aspect of the life of Jesus that could make us wiser in the long run.
Paul tells the Corinthians, and us, today, that we are called to listen and to teach with trust. That means, that before we speak on behalf of Jesus, we should fully understand the Truth of what we are saying, both from the point of view of the Church and in God’s eyes. And we are also called, not to judge other people, so as to break relationships with one another. Instead, we treat each another with kindness and leave the judging to God.
The previous verses in Luke’s Gospel also give us a point of reference that help us correlate today’s Gospel reading with this topic of being non-judgmental.
You see, Jesus had just asked Levi or Matthew the tax collector, to join His disciples. Levi then gave a dinner party for Jesus and the whole community. And of course, the antagonistic, Jewish Pharisees were again there to pick on Jesus. And after judging Jesus for associating with tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees then turned to judging the prayer and fasting methods of Jesus and His disciples. To which Jesus responded with the parable that we heard today.
And in that parable, Jesus likened the Pharisees to the old wineskins that could not accept anything new, because they were too comfortable with the old ways and too rigid to listen. But for those who did accept, without judgment, a teaching that encourages people to accept everyone, with love and in compassion for their situation, like the tax collectors and sinners did; to those, Jesus is offering a whole new life.
Like new wine in new skins, Jesus is offering a Kingdom of peace, and love, and hope that’s available for us as well.
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