When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, "My son"; and he answered, "Here I am." He said, "See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die." Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau.
Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.
So he went in to his father, and said, "My father"; and he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me." But Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?" He answered, "Because the Lord your God granted me success." Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not." So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands; so he blessed him. He said, "Are you really my son Esau?" He answered, "I am." Then he said, "Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son's game and bless you." So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near and kiss me, my son." So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said, "Ah, the smell of my so is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!"
Praise the name of the Lord,
praise him, servants of the Lord,
who stand in the house of the Lord
in the courts of the house of our God. (R./)
Praise the Lord for the Lord is good;
sing a psalm to his name for he is loving.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself
and Israel for his own possession. (R./)
For I know the Lord is great,
that our Lord is high above all gods.
The Lord does whatever he wills,
in heaven, on earth, in the seas. (R./)
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."
In the Sermon on the Mount (5-7), we hear of Jesus' new vision that perfects and in many ways replaces the old law, "You have heard the commandment . . . but now I say to you," The change from totally law-regulated Judaism to a world mission is stated at the end of Matthew's Gospel, "Full authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations" (28:18-19).
The difference between the message of Jesus and that of John the Baptist is put in homespun imagery. We cannot sew unshrunken cloth--or animal skins that have not been tanned--onto old leather cloaks; the new will proceed to shrink, pull away and the rip will only get worse. If animal skins are used to hold fermenting wine, new skins will stretch, while old skins will burst open and the wine will be lost. This image from everyday life points to a dramatic discontinuity with the past, in Jesus' preaching and outlook. What began as a finge movement now moves to the centre. There is to be rejoicing, an entirely new cloak rather than an old one with patches, new wineskins for the new wine.
Change provokes various reactions. We need to be willing to adapt to whatever new circumstances God and history have put us in. The ways of Providence are surely leading towards a noble, final goal, but they pass through the vagaries human existence. We pray to be worthy disciples of Jesus, letting him pour his new wine into new wineskins, and be as realistic as he was, in accepting change.
Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom, with his disciples as the bride. His public ministry is like a wedding celebration, when fasting is not appropriate. In keeping with that wedding image, he speaks of the new wine of his ministry, new wine that needs new wineskins.
We are always in the presence of the divine bridegroom and gifted with new wine, the new wine of God's kingdom. So we must abandon old wineskins for new ones. The Lord, the Spirit, does not allow us to get too comfortable in our old ways. We always stand before the Lord's call for a renewal of life that is worthy of the bridegroom, a renewal that can receive the new wine of the kingdom of God.