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Cleaning out.

  • First reading: Hosea 2:16,17,21,22
  • Psalm: 103:1-4,8,10,12-13
  • Epistle: 2 Corinthians 3:1-6
  • Gospel: Mark 2:18-22

“No, new wine is poured in new wineskins.”

We are in the final half-week of this short season dedicated to preparation for our Lenten journey. It is a season of ‘cleaning out the old’ to make room for the new thing God has waiting for us.

In the first Sunday of Pre-Lent we recognized our likeness to the leper in the Gospel. We acknowledged the fact that we need Jesus to make us clean, clean from old idols and rebellion against God. We were asked to trust that He will indeed cleanse us.

Last week we saw Jesus forgiving sin and showing forth this authority to do so through the curing of the paralytic. Jesus came to cleanse us at an entirely different level – like with the paralytic a cleansing so deep it is complete. St. Paul reminded us that God’s promises are sure and firm. He will do what He says, providing us complete cleansing, forgiveness, and healing. We need only trust.

Today we focus on the room we have made by cleaning out the old and by trusting in God to cleanse us. The room we have made prepares us for the new thing God has waiting for us.

Have you ever reflected on how amazing God is at doing something new? Who else but our God would do new amazing things like lead His people dry shod through the midst of the sea on their way to freedom? Who else would cause the walls of the world’s strongest city to fall before His people? Who would allow His servants to walk safely through the hottest oven ever built? Who would give victory to His armies in the face of overwhelming opposition? Who would send His Son to save us? Who would love a prostitute?

Wait, what? Yes, who else, beside our amazing God, would be bold enough to do what no one else would do, love a prostitute.

The story of the Prophet Hosea is exactly that, God’s next new thing. Hosea was commanded to go out, find, clean up, and marry Gomer the prostitute. Hosea was commanded to go after her, even when she chose to leave him so she could go back to prostitution. In this relationship, God shows forth the depth of His love, a love ever new and renewing. A love deep, complete, and powerful to do new for Gomer and for us.

Jesus speaks of clothes and wineskins. Imagine your oldest most threadbare clothes. God’s ever new way is not to fix up your old clothes with patches, trying to cover the holes that leave us exposed. Rather, He has prepared new brilliant white clothes for us to wear into the kingdom. He does not want to fill the old us with His new wine, His word and His very self. If He did, we would burst. Rather He makes us new, in and out, and ready to receive His next new thing this Lent. 

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