July 5, 2014

The Gospel Today

Saturday of the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 9:14-17

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.
No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth,
for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse.
People do not put new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined.
Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Reflection (Sem. Daniel Voltaire Hui):

“No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. People do not put new wine into old wine skins. Otherwise the skin burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

The Holy Apostles Senior Seminary is a seminary for those who are called late in life or those who have, as they say, late vocation. All seminarians in our seminary have graduated from college and are professionals who worked for at least two years and with the age ranging from 25-40 years old. With such background, it is undeniable that most of us have already established ourselves in both career and life aspects. Somehow we have built our own value system, habits and attitudes over the course of time. Integrating ourselves in the image and likeness of Christ as the highest model of priesthood is not an overnight formation. We need a lot of “dyings” in order to be attuned to Christ and to priestly life. It is like what the Gospel for today tells us, that new wine must be put into new wine skins and not into the old, or else the skin will burst. New learnings, value system, attitudes and habits cannot merge into the old ones or else our personhood will not fit the life we are embracing which is the priesthood. We need to be deformed in order for us to be formed, and the way to do it is to let go of the things that have formed us into our own selves. As priests in process, we are not any more a man for ourselves, but for God. To be “God like” is to be in his image and not in our self-image that projects our own ways and values. The Gospel today is a reminder for us that in following God, more than the changes that should occur, conversion must take place. For we are not being changed for the sake of renewing ourselves, but we are being converted to be like the One whom we are serving, which is God.

A person who is fully integrated in Christ is a person who experienced conversion, and that conversion which integrates a person is a gift that is being given to the faithful one. We are all capable of receiving such gift from God but we do not stop in receiving the gift, rather we extend ourselves to that capacity of receiving into changing, and from changing conversion will happen.

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