In the Gospel of Matthew today, Jesus invites the tax collector Matthew to follow him. Jesus then has dinner with him and other tax collectors, which riled up the self-identified pious folk. At the end of Jesus' conversation with the Pharisees and followers of John the Baptist, he says:
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins, otherwise, the skins burst and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed, but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.
New and old are given their equal treatment today: new ways and old ways. There is room for the way things were done in the past, Jesus is saying, but there is also room for new ways of doing things. There is an eloquent beauty in the imagery Jesus uses today, of the old cloak and the new wineskin. A beauty that sums up so much of life and how we interact in the world.
There is opportunity for both types in this Kingdom we are striving for, Jesus is saying. There isn't just one way to accomplish the goals Jesus sets for us. A true "both/and" story by Jesus. Where do we need to make room for the newly in-skinned wine? Where do we need to make room for the shrunken cloth fixed cloak? Where are we being rigid when we should be flexible?
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: SW DC, 2011, jfd+