Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that we cannot repair an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth.  Neither can we pour new wine into old wineskins.

Jesus is using a couple of analogies to help his followers (and us) understand how to receive him and his message.  He is especially helping a Jewish audience learn how to accept what he is bringing. 

Jesus and the Gospel message cannot be merely patched onto the existing Jewish tradition.  A new cloak is needed.  Patching the old cloak with a new patch only risks damage to the old cloak. 

The new wine of Jesus cannot be put into old wineskins, by the same token.  The old wineskins would burst.

Jesus comes as a practicing Jew who does not abolish the Old Law.  At the same time, he does not come to merely be an incremental addition to the original Jewish tradition.  Yes, his message is for the Jews.  In fact, they are the focus of most of his ministry.  But they largely reject him.  They hold on to their old traditions to the point that they are only willing to add Jesus as a small patch to the old cloak.  They are not willing to adjust their beliefs to embrace him.  No, they are forcing the Son of God to fit within their paradigm…within their understanding and practice of the old tradition.

Jesus does not come to tweak the old ways.  He comes to fulfill them, but he does so in a radical way.  He cannot be limited to the bounds of their expectations.  He is the new wine that cannot be poured into the old wineskins.  He is not merely a prophet within the Jewish tradition.  He is God among us.

Do we see Jesus as something that needs to be incrementally added on to our already established way of life?  Are we so set in our ways that we are not willing to consider the possibility of setting some (or much) of what we do aside to follow him? 

Consider how the Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees tried to make Jesus comply with their understanding of the Old Law.  Contrast that with the way in which the Apostles set aside their old lives to follow Jesus.

We are called to follow him.  He did not come to follow us.