New wine on new wineskins

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

YES, we need to know how to flow with the times, adapting ourselves with the new developments and circumstances without losing sight of what is truly essential in our life. That’s the lesson we can learn from what Christ said about new wine to be put always on new wineskins, not old, and not to put a patch from a new garment on an old one. (cfr. Lk 5,36-38)

That is why we have to feel the necessity to continually explore the things, adapt ourselves to the changing circumstances and make the necessary innovations along the way.

But let’s always remember that innovations do not completely do away with some old practices and traditions. We may be discarding certain old things, but they should not be the essential things that should never change. We can only discard or make innovations on those things that can and should change.

Innovations can spring only from some old ground. They cannot be completely new, because only God can do that when he creates something, which means he makes something from nothing. In our case, we can only innovate from something that is already existing.

Besides, as we are reminded in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” (1,9) Everything is under God’s control and always works according to God’s laws. No matter what we do to delude ourselves by thinking that we can create something completely new, things still work under God’s laws.

Thus, again from the Book of Ecclesiastes, we read: “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises…” (1,2-7)

It is wrong to think that things can be completely old and therefore should be discarded totally, and that there are things that can be completely new. Even the new creation ushered in by Christ with his passion, death and resurrection rises from the old, damaged creation.

And this is the main point in our understanding of what is truly new. We and things, in general, can only be truly new when we are renewed by Christ. That means that our spirit so vitally reconnects with the spirit of Christ such that we become another Christ. We have his mind and heart. We have his life in us.

Regarding this point, St. Paul says: “Take off your old self with its practices, and put on the new man, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Col 3,9-11)

And again, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things passed away. Behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor 5,17)

While it’s true that we have to adapt ourselves with the new things as time flows, we should not worry too much about that concern. We will always be a child of our time, of our culture, of our environment. We should not be too apologetic for this condition and should just be game with the unavoidable tensions related to the condition.

As long as we are not trapped by that condition and can manage to transcend it to touch base always with what is essential, that is, to be vitally identified with Christ, then we can always manage to be new and innovative.

Remember that in order to save us, God had to become man in Christ, and had to adapt himself completely to our condition even to the point that, as said by St. Paul, he became like sin without committing sin. (cfr. 2 Cor 5,21)