With New Wineskins Letting Christ Lead Us to Perfection through Suffering, 2nd Monday (I), January 16, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
January 16, 2017
Heb 5:1-10, Ps 110, Mk 2:18-22


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in today’s homily: 

  • At the beginning of Ordinary Time, the Church today helps us to relate to what God is seeking to do with renewed, fresh receptivity. Jesus, with regard to fasting, said that his disciples needed to learn how to fast differently than the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees, who fasted in reparation, petition and for self-discipline. Jesus wanted his disciples to fast for union with God, to hunger for what God hungers, and to feast when they are in union like “sons of the wedding chamber” do when the Bridegroom is with them and the wedding reception is on-going. Jesus uses two homespun images to illustrate the point. He says he’s not trying to place a small patch on the Old Covenant garments, to improve it in a slight way; rather he’s giving a totally new garment. Similarly the “new wine” he is pouring out cannot be received by tough, un-expansive old wineskins but they need to be received with fresh wineskins that can expand as the new wine expands.
  • We can apply that new receptivity what we read in the Letter to the Hebrews. Throughout the Letter until now, we have learned that God the Father’s definitive Word, his Son, has come to lead us to perfection, to eternal salvation, through his suffering and through helping us suffer with him. It’s urged us not to harden our hearts to this message but to let the Word profit us by approaching God’s throne to receive mercy and grace whenever we need it to endure. Today the Letter continues to show us the type of high priest we have, the one who is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses, because he himself has been tested in every way we have been and passed those tests. Like the old covenant high priests, Jesus has been chosen from among men — hence the incarnation!, where God the Father said “You are my Son” and made him a priest not according to the order of Levi but the order of Melchizedek — to represent us before God and offer sacrifices not of bulls and goats and other animals but to offer himself. Just like the high priests, he is able to deal patiently with others because he has physical weaknesses and hence prayed with “loud cries and tears” and “learned obedience from what he suffered” and was perfected by what he suffered. Jesus wants us, through our baptismal and — in my case — ministerial priesthood to receive the gift of his priesthood with freshness and through our fasting seek to unite ourselves totally to that work, recognizing that we too have been chosen in him to offer ourselves as the holy and acceptable sacrifice, our spiritual worship (Rom 12:1-2), so that we might receive salvation and in Christ be a minister of eternal salvation to others. Just like there needed to be a new fasting, there likewise needed to be a new conception of the high priesthood and what Jesus is trying to do in us through making us a kingdom of priests in him. Part of that priesthood is learning obedience through what we suffer — a type of fasting from good things of the body — so that he may bring us to perfection, to fulfillment according to how he’s made us.
  • Today as we come to this Mass to meet our High Priest, we have fasted not only from food but from our old ways, so that as he makes supplications and prayers to the Father for us and gets ready to offer himself up as the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him and “do this in memory of him,” we may fully receive this gift and as not just “sons of the wedding chamber” but as the Bride rejoice in such a way that others may even be positively scandalized!


The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 HEB5:1-10

Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
You are my Son:
this day I have begotten you;

just as he says in another place,
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.

In the days when he was in the Flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Responsorial Psalm PS 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Alleluia HEB 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered them,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”