New Wineskins Today

by | Jul 13, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

This past weekend I experienced a bit of what is sometimes called an “earworm.” Some use this as shorthand for not being able to get a tune out of one’s head. In this case, it wasn’t a tune or the lyrics of a song. I kept thinking of Jesus’ image of the “new wineskins” in last Saturday’s Gospel.

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.”  Mt 9:16

I have heard the passage before but was never “haunted” by it

Three days later I finally made the connection with something else I have wrestled with recently – “mindsets”. Mindsets, sometimes called “mental frameworks”, are the containers of our way of looking at the world.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk, I share thoughts about the wineskins or frameworks of our thinking about God.

The old wineskin of our image of God

In many ways, we are still using an Old Testament image of God drawn from their observations of the world they lived in.

Powerful rulers were at the top of the social pyramid and held power over their lives. God was a powerful ruler whose name could not even be spoken. This God’s ten commandments summed up our place in relationship to God.

By the time of Jesus, the ten had officially become 613 laws with thousands of interpretations. This God would love them if they kept the commandments.

The Jewish people did get a bit beyond their secular neighbors. They saw themselves as “the chosen” people of this all-powerful ruler. This was a new mindset in comparison to gods made of clay or aspects of nature.

The new wineskin Jesus brought

The author of the Hebrews began by saying that in these latest times the Word of God was best revealed in the person of Jesus the Christ. Jesus spoke of his Father and his Spirit. A community of persons.

Almost the very last words of the New Testament emphasize “And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

I never connected the image of God as a community of persons with the “new wineskins.” This image represents a new way of thinking about God.

God is a community of persons in whose image and likeness we are made. We are called to imitate God in whose and image and likeness we are made.

Sadly, for many, we have so emphasized Jesus as God that we lose sight of Jesus’ Father and Spirit.

Understanding our new wineskin

Jesus’ life, teaching, death, and resurrection all point to a more accurate and detailed image of God modeled by Jesus.

We must not pour the wine of the Good News that we are ALL one, into the old skin of a “perfect secular society.

We must recognize the limitations of how much the wineskin of our image of God is modeled after the way we experience society and modeled after social structures in times past.

Pope Francis has written 3 powerful visionary documents unpacking this new image of God.

“Evanglium Gaudium” highlights the joy and excitement of waking up to this new understanding of God. We are, individually and collectively, God’s beloved, brothers and sisters.

Laudato Si’’’ reminds us that everything is connected.

“Fratelli Tutti” teaches us that everyone is connected.”

In this new wineskin, the “imitation of Christ” and being the Body of Christ takes on a much richer meaning than I ever thought.

Which wineskin holds your working image of God?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk


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