Another Banner Day

Beautiful pro-life billboard–right here in my humble ‘hood! Thank you Prolife Across America! (On display at 9th and G Streets, N.E.)

…How fired-up are we for the Caps?

…Call me obtuse, but I have always found this parable difficult to understand:

No one pours new wine into old wineskins.

Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.

And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ (Luke 5:37-39)

The parable seems clear enough:

Christ has inaugurated the New Covenant. The New Covenant requires a complete renovation of religion. The ancient observances of the Old Covenant had to be changed. Those who were accustomed to the old way had a hard time accepting the Christian way of life, even though it is sweeter and better than Judaism.

Fair enough.

BUT:

The fact is that the taste of wine improves with time, up to the point when it reaches its peak. The ancient Palestinians used inside-out animal skins as wine bottles (until the Prohibition of Mohammed deprived them of the joy of the vine).

Skins were used for transporting wine on camel-back. The wine would ferment a second time in the skins, under the hot sun.

So, while it is true that pouring wine into old, dried-out skins would never be wise, neither would it be wise to drink wine that you had just poured into a wineskin. Better to take your journey, then drink it later.

So the “newness” interpretation doesn’t do full justice to the parable.

Today I finally found the perfect explanation. In order fully to grasp the parable, we have to understand it as applying to the Holy Mass:

The wine of Christ’s blood, drawn from the many grapes of the vineyard that He had planted, is extracted in the winepress of the cross. When men receive it with believing hearts, like capacious wineskins, it ferments within them by its own power. (St. Gaudentius of Brescia)

One thought on “Another Banner Day

  1. Thanks for the beautiful passage explaining one way of understanding the wine and wine skins, Fr. White.

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