“You can please some of the people all of the time but you can please none of the people all of the time.”  Jesus must have felt that way.  Yesterday he was criticized for eating with sinners and in the next section of Chapter 2 of Mark, Jesus is criticized for not eating, fasting, with the righteous.  Whoopi laments in Sister Act 1, “Surely there is something I can do that won’t chip my nails!”  I feel his frustration.  Jesus responds with two oblique examples.  New material patches are not put on old material and new wine is not put in old wineskins.  What do these examples mean? Allow me to chew on this a minute with you.

         New ideas and approaches challenge the traditions we live with and are disruptive.   In my lifetime I can remember the social discussions around having a Catholic president.  Now we have debated having a businessman president.  The changing of music styles, art styles and clothing trends show how the new challenges the old and creates tension among people. Mass inoculations now demand new ways of thinking.  Technology has stretched our awareness of the world and the burdens we carry.  Some days we feel like we can please no one.

         But personally, I ponder if there are new ways that I am patching into my old ways of behaving that impact the fabric of my life.  Zooming for church, wearing of masks, and social distancing immediately come to mind.  Jesus points out that people don’t fast when the bridegroom is present.  There is a time and place that are appropriate for different “patches.”  Jesus does not make a blanket statement about fasting but points out that appropriateness of situation is a factor.  Secondly whenever we patch together old and new, we experience tension as one gives and the other takes.  New wine ferments, expands and bursts the old container.  Change and growth are inevitable.  The new patch becomes tested, tried and shrinks into place causing changes to the garment.  The question is not whether or not to fast or eat with sinners but the appropriateness of the time and the realization of the stretching and shrinking of ways of thinking that result. 

         We are going through a time when we are being challenged in our political thinking and in our medical practices.  As we listen to the news today and follow the impeachment proceedings and as we hear the most recent thoughts on the pandemic, may we be slow to judge and criticize.  May we be able to discern what is true and eternal and of God.  May we be kind to those who see the issues slightly different than ourselves and who confront us.  We are being stretched spiritually as well as politically and medically.  Remember to breath!  Blessings today.

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