Friday, February 19, 2016

A New Patch

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:13-22

I turned sixty in December and have pondered a good deal what it means to be old. I know myself to ache for familiar things, familiar traditions, familiar and well known patterns. When times and circumstances change, I find it harder to change along with them. I don't learn as quickly as I used to and have the tendency to dismiss new things. Age can mean wisdom but it can also mean stagnation and rigidity.

Jesus calls Levi and then goes and joins him for a meal. He is roundly criticized by the religious elders. Jesus is a new gift from God, and God is changing history through him. But those grounded in traditions see him as a threat and  his disciples a violation of all their traditions. The new way is a horrifying insult to their familiar lives. We learn today that God changes things, culture and religious practices included. All cultures that live changes. We are invited today by God to face the changes with hope and joy, being flexible and sensitive to changes around us.

Today I ask God to give me the suppleness needed to bend and move with the changes before us. May we make room for the new, so that people may find God in the present world and that we might be able to serve those to whom we are sent.

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