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Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Col. 1:15-19 & Lk. 5:33-39

If the words of Saint Paul in today's first reading sound very familiar, just think of the Creed. When we make that profession of our faith we acknowledge God the Father as creator of everything "seen and unseen". We proclaim our belief in Jesus “through Whom all things were made”, and in the Holy Spirit, "the giver of life". All three persons of the Blessed Trinity are involved in Creation, but I think St. Paul is asking us to reflect for a moment on the role of just one Person, Jesus.

He is the “image of the unseen God". In other words, if we want to know what God is like we have only to study the life of Jesus in the Gospels. He chose to be born on Earth, human in every way except for our tendency towards sin. It is comparatively easy for us to think about Jesus as a human baby, as a boy growing up in Nazareth, as a young man preaching and winning followers, and finally suffering and dying with all the pain that any man would feel. It is not always easy to grasp the idea of Jesus in His divine nature, having power over the entire Universe from the tiniest insect we know to the vast galaxies still unexplored. Paul reminds us that Jesus has existed, with His Father, from all eternity. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is Lord of all creation.

This is an awe-inspiring thought, but also a comforting one. Sometimes we can feel powerless and ineffectual. We live in a world which seems to be governed by big business, despotic governments and cruel dictatorships. We can often feel pessimistic about the future. Again Paul reminds us that even "Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, and Powers" are subject to Christ and exist for Him. They hold power only with His permission. It is Christ who is bringing about reconciliation and unity. In the prayer He taught His followers, the Our Father, He asks us to pray and work every day that His kingdom may come. We may not be able to imagine how that will be achieved, but we know it will. Christ is in charge and we have nothing to fear.

Levi, a tax collector, was sitting in his office when Jesus called him. He rose immediately, left everything behind and became a disciple. His enthusiasm was so great that he gave a feast at his house and invited all of his friends to come and meet Jesus. This is the setting for Jesus' encounter with the Pharisees that we read of in the Gospel today.

Jesus enjoyed a meal with tax collectors and other 'sinners' whom the Pharisees spurned and scrupulously avoided. They tried to trap Him by bringing up the question of fasting, and even comparing Him to John the Baptist whose disciples fasted often. Jesus replied that it was a time for rejoicing because God had just brought salvation to Levi and his friends. Fasting and prayer were still appropriate, but it was a time for rejoicing in His presence and cherishing all the blessings He had come to give.

Levi's acceptance of Jesus shows that to drink the new wine Jesus offers we need to have a new heart. We need to go through a change in our way of thinking and acting. And the Pharisees show how difficult this can be since we can so easily grow comfortable in our way of doing things.

Every day God offers us new wine through the presence of His Spirit in our hearts. Every day, the Spirit gives us fresh opportunities to grow in our understanding and devotion to God.

Today, Lord Jesus, let us trust in the Spirit's presence within us and as we do, the revelation of God’s love for us will become a living reality. We will be like a new wineskin filled with new wine that can mature to become rich and full-bodied, pleasing to the Lord as we follow You more faithfully.

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