“People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17)
The pairing of today’s readings is interesting. In the first reading, Jacob tricks Isaac into bestowing the blessing rightfully intended only for the firstborn on him. In the Gospel, Jesus explains by way of the metaphor of new wineskins that something new is happening because of him. Though Jacob relies on treachery and the favor and conniving of his mother, Rebekah, through his father’s blessing he becomes the leader of a great nation. Jesus relies on no treachery, but through the Father’s blessing makes more fully realized the kingdom of God on earth.
I like it that some imagination must have gone into the juxtaposition of these Scripture passages. On the one hand, we should be indignant that the deceit and conniving of Rebekah and Jacob isn’t punished. Isn’t that right, just, moral? Shouldn’t someone have done something about it? Instead, this God of ours works with Jacob who has stolen his brother’s birthright and makes him the father of twelve sons who become the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. God keeps his covenant promise with a trickster!
Jesus reminds us that God is always about pouring new wine into fresh wineskins, always about keeping his covenant of love with us in ever-new situations. We might ask, “Why isn’t God doing something about this injustice?” In fact, God might be using even the most unjust situation to pour love and faithfulness anew into this world. We just don’t always see things the way that God does. Thank God.