NEW SKINS, NEW HEARTS
Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Martin Luther King, Jr Birthday
My dear encountered couples:
Do you know why that is? “No one,” said Jesus, “pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does so, the wine will burst the skins and both wine and skins will be lost. No, new wine is poured into new skins.”
I don’t know much about wine when it comes to wineskins, but I guess Jesus is saying that old, empty wineskins become dried out, hard, and brittle. And in trying to use them again, disturbing their rigidity will probably make them crack. And any new wine put into them will disturb that rigidity, produce the cracks, and out comes the wine. Therefore, unless somebody knows how to make old skins supple and soft, new skins are necessary. The same with civil rights laws.
The government can make all the civil rights laws it can think of to cover each and every person imaginable. It can threaten punishment for violators, put offenders in jail, and be successful in bringing about a certain amount of exterior conformity. But government cannot make people like those laws, it cannot make people accept each other, it cannot change hearts. On this birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. we are reminded of what he devoted his life to. Trying to change old, hardened wine skins into new, soft ones into which God could pour his new wine of love.
Prejudice exists everywhere in the world. It’s a sad thought, but it’s a fact. Not only is there prejudice between races, there is prejudice within races. Some whites are prejudiced against other whites, some blacks against other blacks. Feelings of better-than-thou, superior-to-thou, even holier-than-thou exists in every nation of the world. In our country where liberty and justice and the pursuit of happiness is supposedly guaranteed for all, it is just not happening. Why is that? Because there are not enough new wineskins.
Trying to pour love into hardened hearts requires a miracle, a miracle that must begin with God and flow through his dedicated people. Martin Luther King preached love and forgiveness and non-violence. He knew it was the only thing capable of softening hardened hearts and making them capable of being filled with God’s love. He knew such a miracle could not be accomplished quickly, not even in his lifetime. That it would take many God-filled people many years of showing patience, love, and forgiveness to all those hate-filled hearts. He knew the end to prejudice would come only when hearts are changed. And that won’t happen tomorrow. We must not allow ourselves to grow tired, get discouraged, give up.
Martin risked his life for his dream, he finally lost it. You and I are to continue that dream through prayer, through the way we treat others, through fighting any prejudice we find in ourselves. God’s new wine of love is ready to be poured. Are our hearts ready for it?