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by Fr Robert Barron (wordonfire.org)

Up and down the centuries, the mark of Christianity is joy. What could be better news than ours? Sometimes we might even wonder if Christianity is almost too good to be true, for from the standpoint of our cramped and fallen minds, this news is just too much. This is why Jesus says, “No one pours new wine into old wine skins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins and both wine and skins will be lost.”

The new wine is good news, the Gospel, the Incarnation, the enfleshment of God. It is wine because it is intoxicating; it is new because no one had imagined it possible. The receptacle for this wine must be, as far as possible, conformed to it.

Aristotle said that whatever is received is received according to the mode and capacity of the recipient. His dictum applies exactly here. To take in the Good News, we can’t be living in the cramped space of our sinful souls. We can’t have an “expect the worst” attitude. We can’t be dreaming small dreams.

Imagine someone at a wedding feast who is in a terrible mood. Dancing and singing and laughing are swirling around him, but he is caught in the cramped space of his own depression. If someone were to ask him, “How was the wedding?” he would undoubtedly respond, “Lousy, boring, annoying.”

We must, as Jesus suggested, “change the minds that we have.” This is the basic meaning of metanoia (or repentance): going beyond the attitude that we have. What happens if the Good News is announced to someone who hasn’t changed his mind and life? “Both wine and skins would be lost.” And the Gospel itself would, in that case, be lost – spilled out on the ground.