Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers, all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy. (R./)
Know that he, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the sheep of his flock. (R./)
Go within his gates, giving thanks.
Enter his courts with songs of praise.
Give thanks to him and bless his name. (R./)
Indeed, how good is the Lord,
eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from age to age. (R./)
The Pharisees and their scribes said to Jesus, "John's disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink." Jesus said to them, "You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days."
He also told them a parable: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment; otherwise the new will be torn, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, 'The old is good.'"
Paul’s text today, which may have originally been a Christ-hymn used in very early liturgy, attributes a key role in creation to Christ, the firstborn of all creatures, who is the head of the body, the church. This is a powerful guarantee, that we belong to his body, and that he is our link with the invisible God, the Father of all.
But we live in the "here and now," when things can often go awry. While some rejoice in God’s freely-bestowed grace, others complain that they ought to be fasting and praying more fervently. The lifestyle of Jesus himself was not good enough for his critics. Even in our world today he is still criticized. He responds by ironically comparing them with children who complained, "We piped you a tune but you did not dance, we sang you a dirge but you did not wail" (Luke 7:32). Some people can never recognise grace at work, all around them.
People of a rigid mindset want to put the grace of God under human control, rigidly maintained. They want to patch a new garment with old material, pour new wine into old wine-skins. But the old skins will burst under the pressure of the fermenting new wine. The old fabric will never match the texture and colour of the new.
People can get into a rut, eigidly fixed in our own routines. If someone comes and does things differently we object; why things can’t simply be left alone? We find that scenario in today’s gospel. The Pharisees ask irritably, "Why don’t you and your disciples fast and pray like the rest of us?" In reply, Jesus talks of "new wine" which requires "new wine skins."
We need to work with the new wine of his presence in new ways. These will be in some continuity with the old ways, but will go beyond them. Jesus who is in our midst brings us God’s energy and that energy cries out for new outlets. He prompts us to take some new step in our relationship with him. We pray today for a greater openness to this new wine.