St Luke's account of a particular moment in Jesus' life follows the thoughts that emerged at the end of yesterday's posting. Allusion to Cardinal Martini's message from the grave, as it has been called in the Italian press, and the role of the prophet, become more pronounced in today's gospel. Jesus has been challenged by the right wing of Jewish religion which is disturbed by the lifestyle of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus' response is a presentation of a vision of religion which is new and changing. Again for me it brings to mind the life in our Church since the days of Vatican II and the social revolution that challenged the world since the 1960s. Jesus is speaking to those who are upset by the way he and the disciples do not adhere to the strict religious practices. Jesus speaks of religious practice in a new way that confronts the Jewish style that is wrapped up in so many little "commandments" that dictate so much of the Jewish lifestyle. Even the example of the new wine in old wine skins is a teaching that the old religion and its practices cannot be grafted on to the new way he proposes to the people.
In short, Jesus' new way present this to the people: rituals and regulations vs. religion as an interior life, an interior spirit. Of course this is not easy. New wine does not have the smooth taste of a well seasoned wine, does it? Yet, this is what Jesus is teaching. This is why Christianity is difficult for some: it's a new way, it's a new day that he is bringing to the people. Perhaps this is why a man like Cardinal Martini wrote as he did. He is very much the prophet for us today. And, as in Old Testament days, there were not many prophets but those who were challenged the status quo. The prophet is a unique individual who seems to have a unique relationship to God. To the prophet the Spirit speaks in ways that call us to bring us to prayer and the willingness to open our hearts, minds and ears to the voice of God for us today. Confronting the prophets of our times is not easy. Yet it is necessary for us to hear the voice of those we might fear or consider to be somewhat "crazy."