Each of us has a past, some of which we are proud of, and some of which we pray never sees the light of day again. We may not be able to deny it, but we can escape it. The motto for Be Transfigured Ministries is, “Live A New Life In Christ.” This is our goal, not to live in the past, but to live for the future with God in Heaven. That doesn’t mean we pretend the past never was, but that we are blessed with a NEW life in Christ.
In today’s Gospel lesson we hear Christ, “New wine must be put into fresh wineskins.” This is due to the process of fermentation, and the old wineskins cannot take the added pressure. If you think about your life as a wineskin, who you are today is a story of lifelong journey. Your body and soul have aged together, and each bears the scars of the other. Whether we were baptized as infants or came to the Church later in life, we left our past behind to join Christ in the future. Why would we ever go back to that life if Christ has promised us a new life with Him in Paradise?
At that time, the Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Why do the disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink?" And Jesus said to them, "Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days." He told them a parable also: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'" – Luke 5.33-39
In today’s Epistle reading we hear Saint Paul say, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires.” Crucifixion was a painful torturous way to die. What Saint Paul is admitting to us is that it is a painful process to fight against our passions and desires. If you have been engaged in this fight, you know just how difficult it is to defeat your passions. After such a painful battle, why would we ever go back to our passions if Christ promised us a new life with Him in Paradise?
Brethren, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 5.22-26, 6.1-2
Along this daily journey we call life, we will encounter good days and bad, easy days and difficult, long days that seem to last forever and short. Within each day is a choice between going back to the life we had scared by sin, or to move forward with the new. The new and old cannot coexist. The wineskin will burst, which is exactly how we feel when the pressure gets overwhelming. We must choose to remain in the new, a life filled with the Holy Spirit, a life of love, joy, peace, patience, etc.
The choice is yours to make and today is the day to make it. Reach out to your spiritual father and ask for Holy Confession. You will be blessed with a new start where you can leave the past sins behind, again. As many times as it takes, you can call your spiritual father for Holy Confession and receive a fresh start, again and again. Each time you walk away from Holy Confession you have a new wineskin which can take the pressure ahead because it will grow with you. However, if you leave Holy Confession still holding onto the past, your old wineskin will never survive the added pressure. Once you have crucified the flesh, don’t go back.