Friday, 7 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Lord speaking to us through His parable, of the wineskin and wine, and of new and old cloths, as He taught His disciples about the importance of the conversion of hearts, minds and all of our being in order for us to be able to follow the Lord, Our God, with all of our strength and ability. The wineskin and the cloth represents the state of our lives, whether we are attuned to the Lord or instead, attuned to the world.

First of all, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law came to Jesus asking about the behaviour and habits of His disciples, as contrasted to the disciples of St. John the Baptist, and to the Pharisees themselves, who have obeyed the whole rigorous commandments, rules and regulations of the Jewish tradition. They were slandering the Lord and His disciples, because they have not followed the traditions of the Jewish people.

But the Lord countered their argument by saying that His disciples did not fast as the disciples of St. John and the Pharisees had done, because God Himself was with them, and therefore, they should not weep or mourn at a time when the Lord was with them. In fact, they should be happy and rejoice without end. But the Lord told them a premonition of His own death, by saying that the time would come for Him to be taken away from His disciples.

The new wineskin and the old wine represent the contrast between the ways and the ideas of the Lord, from those espoused by the world, exemplified by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Should we follow the examples of the faith of the Pharisees, as well as the teachers of the Law, in their faith? The Lord answered with a firm no, through His parable. Their faith was one of hypocrisy, as the Lord Jesus often mentioned to His disciples.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law practiced their faith by fasting, by saying long prayers and public show of devotion, in order to be seen by the people, and to be praised by them. But in their hearts and minds, they did not have true faith in God, or love for Him. They practiced their faith in order to gain worldly favour and benefits, a selfish and self-centred attitude rather than a true act of faith.

When the Lord mentioned about the new wineskin and old wineskin, and new cloth and old cloth, He was referring to the ways of the Pharisees, as well as all the self-centred attitudes and all the selfishness in our hearts and minds as the old wineskins for the new wine that the Lord is offering us, or as the old, torn piece of cloth on which the Lord’s new cloth is to be patched on.

This means that, all sorts of worldliness and selfishness as how we mankind often practice, are incompatible with the Lord’s ways. The Lord’s ways are love, compassion, mercy, selflessness and tenderness, while our worldly ways are hatred, anger, jealousy, selfishness and greed. If we continue to live our life according to how we have always lived it in this world, then we cannot call ourselves as true Christians.

And for us to be able to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, it therefore requires us to make a profound change to ourselves, to our attitude and our way of life. To be a Christian requires us to follow Christ with all of our efforts, to be wholly converted to Him, and to be ready to follow Him each and every moment of our lives.

Are we willing to change our way of life, in order to suit what the Lord has asked us to do? Are we willing to embrace the teachings and the truth of Christ fully with our whole support? We have been called to bear our crosses in life and follow the Lord. So, are we ready to commit ourselves to the Lord? Let us all turn ourselves to be true and devout servants of Our God from now on, by deepening our relationship with Him through prayer and time spent in quality time with Him.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life, and may He empower each and every one of us to live faithfully, in each and every actions we take, and at every moments of our life. Amen.

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