He 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.
Then they said to him, 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.'"
We may consider our lives as lived between two extremes of creation, the first at the beginning of time, the second when Jesus returns at the end of time. Situated in between, our lives are profoundly influenced by the memory of beginnings and by a marvellous hope beckoning us into the future. This text from Paul to the Colossians, which may have originally been a Christ-hymn used in the early liturgy of the Church, attributes a key role in creation to Christ, the firstborn of all creatures, in whom everything continues in being, and who is the head of the body, the church.
Yet, we live in the "now," when things can take quite another form and we are caught amidst envy, misunderstanding and rash judgment towards one another. While some rejoice in God's wonderful graces, others complain that they ought to be fasting and praying more fervently. Jesus himself was not good enough for his contemporaries, and even alive within our friends and our church today he is still criticized. We sense this situation in his words, 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 approve what others do, no matter what the motive.
Some want to put the mysterious working of grace 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 piece of cloth will never match the texture and color of the new.
We can easily get into a rut and become fixed in our own way of doing things. Somebody comes along and does things differently and we can find ourselves getting a little irritated and wondering why things can't simply be left alone. We find that kind of scenario at the beginning of today's gospel. The Pharisees say to Jesus, "Why don't you and your disciples fast and say prayers like the rest of us?" In reply, Jesus spoke about his ministry as "new wine" which is always in need of "new wine skins." The Lord is always prompting us to show forth the new wine of his presence in new ways. These new ways will be in continuity with the old ways, but will move beyond them. The Lord who is always in our midst brings God's energy to us and that energy cries out for new ways of being expressed. The Lord is always prompting us to take some new step in our relationship with him. We pray today for a greater openness to his promptings.