The Flame: March/April 2011
Dear Readers of The Flame,
We are all familiar with the brief parable of Jesus about the “new wine in new wineskins”. Jesus used this parable to explain to the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees as to why fasting was suspended when the Bridegroom was with his disciples. The discussion is recorded, with varying details, in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. However, Luke’s gospel added an interesting detail at the end of the parable. Jesus said, “No one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
The new movements in the Church, especially the charismatic renewal, offers people new wine. When people encounter Jesus Christ in a personal manner, they taste of the new wine, the Holy Spirit. Depending on the movement through which they are touched and their openness to Holy Spirit, they experience manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
However, the question is, “Why do so many people like the old wine better?” I am mainly thinking of the many people who seem to be in love with the world more than its Creator and Redeemer. Why do they respond so weakly to the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Part of the problem lies with us. Many outside the church look at members in the church and think, “They are no different than me, except they have a little religious veneer.” Unfortunately, this is true. Our witness to Jesus Christ has been blunted by desires that are more worldly than heavenly. Those outside the church wonder, “What’s the difference?”
A second problem I see with “us” is that we are not straightforward about the gospel. Scripture says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” We need to let people know that choices have consequences. Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). St. Paul said,
As unpopular as this message is, it is true. Our choices matter. What we believe and how we live does make an eternal difference. Finally, people do not like the new wine of the Lord because they are so comfortable here. Fr. Dunphy of St. Martin of Tours often tells the story of Gertrude. One day Fr. Dunphy was asking the nursing home residents if they wanted to go to heaven Each one answered in turn, “Yes.” However, when he came to Gertrude (who had a touch of dementia) she answered, “Why no!” A surprised Fr. Dunphy quickly asked, “No? Gertrude, why don’t you want to go to heaven?” Gertrude responded, “Because I like it here!”
What Gertrude unwittingly but explicitly stated is the operating system of many people today. They are pleasures, busyness and anxieties of this life that has stifled any desire for the life to come (see Luke 8:20). They like the old wine.
All this is a really big lead in to invite you to an afternoon and evening with Jim Murphy on Sunday, March 27 at Sts. Cosmas and Damian Church in Twinsburg. The chosen theme for the day is “Come After Me…” It comes from Matthew 4:19. The rest of the verse goes, “…and I will make you fishers of men.” Jim Murphy has a wealth of experience, encouragement, wisdom and wit to help us help others partake of the New Wine!
Click here for flyer.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Bob Franco