Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 15:16-23; Mark 2:18-22)
Jesus brings Israel a new holiness. Seeing saw how many practitioners of the law have become hard-hearted, he provides a fresh interpretation. He extends some precepts like love to include one’s enemies. He also accentuates what the law has taught for centuries with uncommon vigor. He compares this new holiness to “new wine” and warns that it requires “fresh wineskins.” By this he means that the people need to change the way they live. They must move from an obsession with personal righteousness to a heart-felt care for others.
Today is the ninetieth birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In a very significant way his ministry resembles that of the Lord Jesus. He too strove to change people’s minds and hearts. Where many people thought that laws were fair because they were “on the books,” he showed that some were patently unjust. More importantly, he always preached respect, even love, for others. Dr. King is not only an American hero exemplifying both courage and racial justice. He is also a Christian saint dying, like Christ, for selfless love.
We can test ourselves as being “fresh wineskins” by asking how we see people of different skin color. If we judge them inferior mentally or morally for that reason, we are old wineskins. We will fall apart trying to accommodate Jesus’ teaching. But if we respect them for their differences, then we should be able to follow Jesus to the end.