People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved (Matthew 9:17).
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
As we approach Holy Week and Easter, let’s reflect on what are the primary goals of all our Lenten disciplines – whether it is increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving or giving up things we enjoy. Jesus didn’t become man and die on the cross just so that he could improve an old product. He didn’t give us his new wine so that we could try to pour it into the “old wineskins” of our lives before him. He came to earth—and he acts in our lives today—to transform us, to pour his new wine into the “new wineskins” of the life he wants us to start living. In other words, Jesus didn’t die on the Cross just to make us better people. He came to make us holy. He came to make us new creations in him (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Through our Lenten practices, it is wonderful to see the Lord change some area of our lives because we have become better men or because some situation in our lives has improved and is not so troublesome. These aspects of change are a beautiful part of God’s work. But God doesn’t just want to improve situations for us. He wants to transform us into the Catholic men of God he created us to be. This means that he wants us to learn how to think as he thinks, how to love what he loves and hate what he hates, and how to act as he would act in this world. As St. Paul wrote: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Because of sin, we know that our minds are fallen, and our ability to think in godly ways is hindered. But the marvelous truth is that God can renew and restore our minds. In fact, this is one of the most important missions of the Holy Spirit. It is his job to help us put on the mind of Christ, so that we can take up the new life that Jesus so deeply wants to pour into us.
So take some extra time between now and Easter to evaluate the way you think. Are there attitudes, prejudices, and predispositions that are still holding you back? Also take some extra time to pray and tell the Lord that you want to be made new so that his life can fill you. And tell the Lord that you want the new wine of his Holy Spirit to be poured into the new wineskins of your life.
“Lord you died on the Cross for my sins, so that I can live a totally new life of faith in you. Come, Holy Spirit, and transform me into a worthy vessel. I want to be a new wineskin. I want to receive the new wine of your Spirit that you so desire to pour into my life. I want to be that new creation you called me to be.”
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
In the article, we hear these words: “Jesus didn’t die on the Cross just to make us better people. He came to make us holy. He came to make us new creations in him (2 Corinthians 5:17).” Have you performed your Lenten practices and disciplines with these goals in mind? Why or why not?
Romans 12:2 states the following: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” What do these words mean to you?
The article exhorts us to “take some extra time between now and Easter to evaluate the way you think. Are there attitudes, prejudices, and predispositions that are still holding you back?” How would you describe some of the attitudes, prejudices, and predispositions that need to change in your life?
The article also tells us to take some extra time “to pray and tell the Lord that you want to be made new so that his life can fill you. And tell the Lord that you want the new wine of his Holy Spirit to be poured into the new wineskin of your life.” Are you willing to do this? If not, why not?
If you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another to be open vessels to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.