2 July, Saturday – Change is how we became a New Creation in Christ

Saturday of Week 13 in Ordinary Time

Amo 9:11-15

Mt 9:14-17

“Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost.”

In ancient times, the wineskins were made of sheep or goat hides that were partly tanned and retaining, to a great extent, the form of the living animals. These, as they grew dry with age, became very liable to crack, and were unable to resist the pressure of the fermenting liquor. Through long usage, they became very tender and would swell and be easily ruptured, especially if new wine was poured in to ferment. When we interpret the parable, we see at once that the new wine represents the inner, as the wineskins signified the outer aspect of Christian life. It could also symbolize the new energies and gifts of the Spirit, which, on the day of Pentecost, were likened to new wine. Thus, what Jesus mentioned in today’s gospel could also infer to the appropriateness of things. The changes that Jesus sought to bring aren’t so much in the abolishment of old and corrupt doctrines of the Pharisees, but rather an understanding in mind and heart of the purpose and meaning behind those practices. In snubbing the practices of dogma, he also implied that not every soul is capable of receiving the new and spiritual law. The new wine of Christianity required new vessels to contain, which not many were ready to accept at that point in time. Thus, change is needed, either in the wine or the vessel intended for usage.

As John F Kennedy put it, change is the law of life. I’ve always spoken about change being the only constant; besides death and taxes. Change can come into our lives as a result of a crisis; as a result of choice or just by chance. And the only way to handle changes is to adapt and fit in, just like how the inner wine adapts to the outer wineskin. One of the key strategies in adapting to change is to change our mindset. In catechism, we’ve always likened prayer as more of changing the mindsets of the one praying, rather than the One we are praying to. There is no escaping the fact that change is a disruptor and it feels uncomfortable and scary. The threat of disruption that Jesus brought about to the rule of the Pharisees was one of the key reasons that led to his crucifixion. Even though we can’t control the events of change in our lives, we can control how we react to the impact of these events. It is the power of our minds that will enable us to weather the storms of our earthly lives.

In the Catholic context, change is the fundamental datum of Christian existence. As many Bible scholars put it, metanoia is the sine qua non of the Christian life. We can’t be a Christian without it. Metanoia involves a spiritual paradigm shift — a spiritual revolution. When we encounter the Lord Jesus, He is personally inviting us to change ourselves, to change our vessels, our outer aspect of containment to receive the newness of life, which He intends to pour into us. In the New Testament, the Greek word for metanoia is mostly used in the verb form to mean an active, imperative sense. It literally means the state of thinking differently after some sort of encounter with reality. According to Pope Benedict XVI in his book Credo for Today: What Christians Believe, he highlighted the difficulties in translating the word ‘metanoia’, which goes beyond a change of mind. The reconsidering, remorse, repentance, turning back, conversion could be other synonyms, but none of these words exhausts the contents of the original meaning, even though turning back and conversion indicate most clearly the radical character of what we are talking about: a process that affects one’s whole life and affects life wholly. It means far more than just one single, or even a repeated act of thinking, feeling, or willing. If we decide for metanoia, we opt for a radical, interruptive change of our entire being. In turning to the Lord, we change who we are to become, and we gain an entirely new perception of reality. It is obvious, then, that metanoia is not a one-time change of heart, a one-time action, but a continual, constant, perpetual, habitual resolve to change one’s heart to follow Jesus. The person of Jesus is very clearly at the heart of metanoia. The gist of metanoia involves the rejection of anything that opposes itself to this decision to follow Jesus, which includes the old wine within us. If Jesus can turn water into wine, surely, he can transform the old wine within us to a new creation, if only we allow ourselves to.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, please create in us a new heart. Give us the strength and courage to see people, places, things and events through Your lens. Guide us and change our hearts to see the truth of what is, what has been, and what will one day come. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for being with us every single moment of our lives and guiding us to open ourselves to changes for the better.

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