07Sep 07 September. Friday, Week 22

1st Reading: 1 Corinthians (4:1-5)

As God’s servant, Paul must not be judged by human standards

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 37)

R.: The salvation of the just comes from the Lord

Trust in the Lord and do good,
that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will grant you your heart’s requests. (R./)

Commit to the Lord your way;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will make justice dawn for you like the light;
bright as the noonday shall be your vindication. (R./)

Turn away from evil and do good,
that you may have a home forever;
For the Lord loves what is right,
and forsakes not his faithful ones.
Criminals are destroyed
and the posterity of the wicked is cut off. (R./)

The salvation of the just comes from the Lord;
he is their refuge in time of distress.
And the Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (5:33-39)

The disciples need not fast while Jesus is with them

The Scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.” Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”

He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old wine is better.'”


Surprised by grace

Feelings of misunderstanding and rash judgment are a common temptation. Where some were delighted with the joy of Jesus’ company, others complained that his disciples should be fasting and praying, as did the followers of John the Baptist. If the spirituality of Jesus was not good enough for his contemporaries, it’s hardly surprising that the faults of his church today are so harshly judged and condemned.

Some critics will never approve what others do, no matter what the underlying truth may be. Clearly some aspects of Paul’s ministry was severely criticised in Corinth, and he vigorously replies, “It matters little to me whether you or any human court pass judgment on me. It is the Lord who judges me.” Ultimately, it is the Lord’s judgment that counts, when the hidden intentions of the heart are revealed.

The working of God’s grace can’t be controlled by strict rules, rigidly applied. Rather than patching a new garment with old material, or pouring new wine into old wineskins, we must trust the Holy Spirit to show us how to live in this evolving age. The old skins would burst under the pressure of the fermenting new wine, and the old piece of cloth will never match the texture and color of the new. But if we let ourselves be led by the spirit of Jesus, we will often find ourselves surprised by grace.

Doing things differently

We can get so used to our own way of doing things that we may be blind to other, possibly better, ways. When someone comes along and does things differently, we grumble and ask why things can’t simply be left alone. That’s the scenario at the beginning of today’s gospel. The Pharisees ask, ‘Why don’t you and your disciples fast and say prayers like the rest of us?’ In reply, Jesus describes his message as ‘new wine’ which requires new wine skins.

The Lord is always expressing the new wine of his presence in new ways. These will have some link to the our traditions, but will move beyond them. The Lord who is always in our midst brings new energy to us and that energy cries out for new ways of being expressed. The Lord is always prompting us to move forward in our relationship with him. We pray this morning for a greater openness to his promptings.