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Fresh and New

First Reading: Hebrews 5:1-10

Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
You are my Son:
this day I have begotten you;
just as he says in another place,
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.
In the days when he was in the Flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Gospel: Mark 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

NAB

If we listen closely to this Gospel, we can get a glimpse of the Person of Jesus, who He is, what His personality is like, and His interesting communication style. Who is this God-Man who answers a question with another question? Who is this Person who instead of giving a direct answer offers a mysterious yet practical analogy?

Despite the mysterious meaning of today’s Gospel, Jesus brings us fresh newness through His words. This Gospel can be challenging for us to understand. We are pretty familiar with wine from glass bottles (or a box), but most of us have not had many encounters with wine stored in wineskins or those techniques mentioned for mending cloaks. But just because Jesus uses words and images that relate to the time and place of the people around Him, does that mean that these readings are outdated and irrelevant to us today? No, not at all. We may need to come a little closer and listen a little more deeply to what Jesus is saying, but His message of mystery in the Gospel still applies to us today.

So, what is Jesus saying to you?

Through the practical analogy of new wine poured into new wineskins, I hear Jesus saying that new goes with new. I hear Him saying that the good things of our lives might burst and be wasted if not prepared and stored properly. If we try to stitch up something new into something old, its “fullness pulls away.” And if we mix up things that don’t quite go together, especially at the wrong time, both may get ruined.

Maybe there is an old relationship that needs to be let go for the good of something new? Have you changed and there are new habits forming in you that no longer fit with your old ways of behaving or interacting? Do you need to leave the old behind? Or, do you need to sit with some kind of newness, that despite its possible discomfort or excitement, needs to be still and wait as it transforms and changes, like the patient process of fermenting fine wine?

Jesus reminds us today that there is a time, a place, and a practical purpose for all things. The Bridegroom is with us now. What is the fresh newness Jesus is pouring into your heart today?

If we listen and come before His words with a sense of wonder, we may hear something fresh and new that Jesus wants to speak to us today. What do you hear?

Mary Catherine Craige is a lover of creativity and learning new things. She enjoys teaching children, creating art and music, and helping others live their lives more fully. You can find out more about her here.

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