September 7, 2018
Brothers and sisters: . . . do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, 1_Cor_4:1-5
Jesus told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, 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. Lk_5:33-39
Always taking as our reference for these Scriptures, the context of the time and situation in which they were written, we see again, today, that constant word-battle between Jesus and the Pharisees; where the Pharisees would hurl-over an insult, often disguised as a question, and Jesus would respond with a parable or some witty quote that would leave them, either dumbfounded, or even more angry with Him, because they knew they just couldn’t win.
Today’s contention was no different. There, were the Pharisees bemoaning Jesus for not following their over-stringent fasting laws, even throwing in the name of John the Baptist, for a little added punch; while the response of Jesus was another one of His common-sense allegories:
EVERYBODY knows that you don’t patch an old cloak with new material.
And EVERYBODY knows that you don’t add new wine to an old wineskin.
And yet, WE know that, without ever pointing one accusatory finger, Jesus was using that allegory as a parable:
– where the “OLD” cloak represented the teachings of the Pharisees, while the “NEW” were the teachings of Jesus.
– And the OLD wine represented the unchanging attitudes of the Jews, who were dead-set in their ways and resistant to change, and the NEW wine, stood for the Gentiles, who were open and excited about the change that Jesus offered.
And yet that Change was really nothing more than a different way of saying what all of those “old laws” professed, but this time, without the prejudice, without the Pharisaic superiority, and without the constant judgment and belittling of everyone but themselves.
St. Paul was finding the same issues with the fledgling Church in Corinth. They were getting lost in the legality. They were forming factions based on which teacher they liked best. They were abusing the Eucharist. And worst of all, they were judging and condemning each other over sins that they themselves were guilty of.
All of which carries right-on-over to our own Church today.
And it prompts us to make those same assessments that Jesus and Paul made – of the judgmental Pharisees and the abusive Corinthians:
What piece of paper have I stepped over, rather than picking it up and placing it in the trash?
What shoplifter did I see in the store and gave the benefit of the doubt, rather than snitching on the poor soul?
Or what priest did I forgive for a moment of his frustration, rather than calling down the fires of hell to broil him on the spot.
Am I that perfect?
Or am I that close-minded that the “new wine” of Jesus will burst me at the seams?
You see, neither Jesus nor Paul are telling us today – to close our eyes to the horrors of our time, because we ARE responsible for protecting our brothers and sisters and our world. But they are telling us – to let go, just a little, of our prejudices and our quick judgment of others.
Because, in the end, it will be God alone who makes the final judgment.
And when it’s me sitting in that judgment seat, the only thing that will really matter – is how closely the patch of MY life matches the cloak that Jesus wore.
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