Gospel Reflection- Friday (2 September) – 22nd week of Ordinary Time – New wine requires new wineskins
Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (5:33-39) in which Jesus defends the actions of his followers saying, “You cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them but the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them and that will be the time for them to fast’.
Fr Paul says the question of fasting like the disciples of John and the Pharisees is interesting because it raises the issue of the new and the old. The ‘new’ being Christianity and the ‘old’ being Judaism.
In Mark’s Gospel, which Fr Paul notes is the earliest Gospel recorded, the mixing of the new and the old, that is the mixing of Christianity and Judaism will not work. It will not make things better in Mark’s eyes. It will only make things worse.
In Matthew’s Gospel we hear about how Matthew is concerned about the old skins and forbids pouring the new wine into old skins because he wants to protect the old skins. He tells us to put the new wine into new skins so that ‘both are preserved’. So, for Matthew at the time he writes his Gospel, Judaism retains some value which is worth preserving.
Luke’s point of view is different again: his interest is in the new situation. The new and the old simply do not fit together, and those who drink the old wine do not even want the new wine. So, Fr Paul notes, by the time Luke writes his Gospel there is no point in even attempting to join Christianity and Judaism together.