How do you appear when you put on brand new cloth? Very cool right?
Of course whenever we put on a new cloth, we appear very cool and sharp.
Also, how would you look when you put on patched clothes? Or how beautiful do you think we can appear if we patch our old garment with a new one? It is ridiculous, right?
What of putting New Coat on an Old Coat? You got new cloth but instead of wearing them only, you wear the new one and the old one at the same time. Oh my God, I laugh here.
The truth is that if one buys a new cloth, tears some part of it, and attaches it to an old one, not only will he destroy the beautiful look of the cloth but he will ruin it entirely. Both the old and the new can never match effectively.
Such a look would be a joke because no one would be so foolish to destroy a new cloth just to strengthen or patch an old one.
When we love an old cloth, and would not like to discard it but instead patch it with a new one, we will certainly look absurd and provoke laughter.
In today’s gospel, Jesus says when such happens, not only will the new one be torn, but the piece taken from the new cloth can never match the old both in strength and in appearance.
Therefore, putting new cloth on old ones looks absurd. Jesus wants to communicate something here, let us analyse today’s gospel.
Jesus Brings Something New.
In today’s gospel, when Jesus was in the house of Levi, the Pharisees came there and began to question Him the reason His disciple do not fast unlike the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees.
These Pharisees always think that Jesus is not getting things right and in their bid to make a caricature of Jesus, they make a caricature of themselves.
So, to answer their question, Jesus uses an analogy of the wedding feast.
In the Jewish tradition, weddings are celebrated as a great feast. Sometimes it takes even two to three days.
A wedding feast for a jew is never a dull moment. At the wedding at Cana, you can see how the master of the banquet complained bitterly when the new water that was turned into wine was brought to them. The wedding feast is a great feast.
Also in Matthew 22: 1–14, Jesus uses the parable of the wedding feast to explain the kind of joy awaiting us in the kingdom of Heaven.
So, Jesus uses the wedding feast to answer the question of the Pharisees because the wedding feast for the jew is for eating and drinking and not for fasting.
Therefore, in a wedding feast, it is highly absurd for the wedding attendants to fast while the bridegroom is still with them. A wedding feast is for feasting once the bridegroom is still around.
A wedding feast can not continue when the bridegroom leaves, But once the bridegroom is still around, it is more of feasting. So, what Jesus is teaching them is that once He is still with His apostles, there is no need to fast.
The Pharisees see fasting as a way of seeking the restoration of hope through the messiah. Fasting is a way they await for the coming of the Messiah, atone for their sins and ask for a special favour from the Lord.
Therefore, what Jesus is saying is that, it is absurd to fast when the Messiah who is the atonement for our sins is already present with them.
Therefore, What the Pharisees are seeking through fasting is already with them. So, there is no need for fasting.
Jesus is not in any way opposed to fasting. Jesus fasted and taught His disciples to do the same (Matthew 6:6-18).
There is no written record in the gospel that they fasted when Jesus was with them but they did fast after the resurrection ( Acts 13:2; 14:23; 1 Cor 7:5).
In essence, Jesus is ushering in a new movement different from the old. Jesus is trying to let them know that the messiah they are fasting for is already with them.
So, It is no longer the legalistic way of the Pharisees or ceremonial keeping of the laws but something new has come. What is obtainable now is life and closeness with God.
It is no longer a time of following strictly the laws and forgetting the spirit of the law or what the law wants to achieve. This is a time of dependence on God’s grace, mercy, and salvation of those who believe.
It is no longer a time of absolute dependence on keeping the laws for the sake of keeping them or for the sake of religious obligation.
This is now a time when the kingdom of God is already near. So, it is now grace at work, a time of sincere and intimate union with Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we should not fast and pray because the law obliges us to do so, but a time we pray and fast to increase our intimate union with Jesus Christ.
So, unlike the ceremonial laws of the Pharisees, Jesus is bringing a new cloth. It is absurd to continue to put on the old ceremonial laws of the Pharisees.
Jesus is bringing in teachings on love, faith, truth, and grace. For Jesus, mixing such teachings with the pharisaic and legalistic demands will never work. Therefore, putting a new coat on an old coat is rather absurd.
In all these teachings, what Jesus is trying to say is that patching the new teachings with the old legalistic way of the Pharisees can never work.
Jesus says to them “No one tears a piece from a new coat to put it on an old coat; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old”.
“And nobody puts new wine into old skins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost. No; new wine must be put into fresh skins. And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. “The old is good,” he says.’
What Jesus is teaching them is that His message is new. So, to still attach the legalistic way of the Pharisees to that of Jesus will not work.
The Pharisees believe only in what the law says but does not consider the new way of life which is more of mercy, love, forgiveness and relationship with God.
So, Jesus is saying that the Pharisees believe that the old ways are better than the new wine and the new coat He is bringing, this is why he says “the old is good”.
Therefore, the Pharisees think that the old teaching is better than the new one. So, they are ready to defend the law to the extent of planning to kill Jesus because of it.
The New Coat and the New Wine that Jesus Brings.
The New coat and the new wine that Jesus is bringing is the era of God’s mercy, a time of grace, a moment of we depend on God more than we depend on our legalistic way of doing things.
It is not a time we think that because we have fasted for forty days and forty nights God must hear our prayer. No. Rather a time we pray and fast to become more intimate with God.
It is a time God’s answers to our prayers is through His loving mercy. This is the time we live in love and not a time we live according to the law only.
It is a time we obey God because we love Him. And not a time we obey God because the law says so. Our love for God is not because the law says we should do. This is now when it is born out of an intimate relationship with Him.
This era of new coat and wine is the time we obey God because we know He is our father. The new wine is more of an intimate relationship with God.
It is not a time of obeying the law only. This is the time we are motivated by the love we have for God. We are not motivated only for keeping the law. When we live like this, doing good becomes easy.
We would cease seeing good life as a burden. By then prayer becomes very enjoyable, especially when you remember that you are going to communicate with the one you love.
Make Everything New.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here”.
This means that when we belong to Jesus we have become a new person. The old life is gone. His teaching is a call to give up our old and former lives. It is a call to begin to live a new life.
It is no longer just going to church every Sunday or scrambling for positions in the church. This is not making effort only that people will recognize you as a prayer warrior. It is now more of living a life of intimacy with the spirit of God.
This goes beyond answering a Christian by mouth. Hence, it involves true personal and intimate union with God and giving our lives to Christ. This type of life, in essence, will definitely affect the way we live.
Let The Past Go.
Secondly, It is also an act of living always in the present and not in the past. Living in Christ is not allowing the problems or sins of the past to affect or becloud the present. It is time to let the past go. The past can never do anything good again.
When we try to patch the old with new clothes we become an object of mockery. This is how our life looks whenever we try to patch our present with the past.
This is the time to make peace with your past. Quit living in grudges and forgive the past. Begin afresh. Living in the past only leads to destruction
It is a call to live in the present and total dependence on the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God.
Therefore, let us put on our new coat and let the old coat go. The past belongs to the past and the present belongs to the present. Let us learn to live in the present.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to conquer the worries and problems of the past. May He continue to be with you. Amen