Beginning Anew
Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time - B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

This Sunday, the last Sunday before we begin the Lenten season, the readings of the Holy Mass talk to us about new things: the new life of newly weds, new cloth, new wine, the new covenant. We are reminded that every day that we live is a new day for us, a new opportunity to better our relationships with other people and, of course, with God.

The First Reading and the Gospel remind us that every marriage that is celebrated is the beginning of a new relationship between a man and a woman. It is a total falling in love, without deception and without lies. It is exclusive and faithful. This true and intimate relationship is a symbol of the bond that should exist between God and his people, between our Creator and us. God wants to love us and take care of us but he is unable to do so if we resist his love, if we reject the tenderness of his affection. That is why he gives us opportunity after opportunity to return to him, to be reconciled with him.

According the laws of the Old Testament, when a man got married he had to hand over a dowry to his wife as a sign of his love and his dedication to her. The prophet Hosea tells us in the First Reading that the dowry that our God hands over to us is marvelous: justice, love, mercy and fidelity. All of this the Lord gives to us when we decide to follow him faithfully. No wonder the Responsorial Psalm says, “Bless the Lord, my soul, and never forget his gifts.”

In the Gospel Reading the Lord tells us that an old cloak should not be mended using new cloth. The new cloth should be used only to make a new cloak. Lent, which is approaching rapidly, is an ideal opportunity to renew, to make new, our relationship with God. The newness of Christ in our lives can never be reduced to a patch up, a partial change, in our way of acting. We must completely break with the old life that we have lived and begin anew. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that new wine should be stored in new wineskins. If it isn’t, if it is poured into old wineskins, these will break open, and both wine and wineskins will be lost. The Pharisees were like old wineskins. They were people who continued to live according to the old laws that God had given to them in order to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. And even though the Messiah, the Christ, was among them, they continued to hold on to that old way of acting. They had not been renewed by the mystery of Christ because they did not recognize him as their God and Savior. Jesus demands that we completely change our lives, that we become new women and men, prepared to drink of the chalice of new wine, prepared to follow him joyfully and sincerely.

We note, with sadness, something that is a very disturbing problem among Christians today. There are many Christians who instead of trusting in Jesus Christ, instead of following him faithfully, turn to other gods, and other religions. And we ask, why? Is it that they are looking for something new? Is it because of curiosity or because they want to break with the monotony they experience in their faith? God wants to accompany us on our journey through this life. But if we reject his company, if we relegate our faith to an hour of prayer at Mass on Sunday, we will soon become bored and abandon it. Our faith should be an integral part of our life everyday of the week. This Lenten season that begins on this coming Ash Wednesday gives us the chance we need to renew our spiritual life, to be reconciled with God, to open the doors of our lives and let God enter and give us his protection and his love.