“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” (Mk 2,22)
With these words of Christ, we are somehow reminded that we have to learn how to blend the new things and the old ones, the innovative and the traditional that we unavoidably encounter in our life.
Yes, we also have to learn how to be adaptive to all the varying situations in our life while observing a certain consistency, so we do not get confused and lost, and would still be on track to pursue our ultimate goal in life.
We need to know how to blend the traditional and the innovative, the old and the new, the absolute and the relative, the more or less stable culture and the appropriate passing fads.
Given the naked reality on the ground, we need to examine and question the status quo of our life many times, since we tend to do well at the beginning of any endeavor, then start to deteriorate as we go along, until we end up badly.
This has always been our lot and we should not be surprised by it anymore. And much less should we feel helpless about it, since there are many things we can do to renew ourselves continually, neutralizing the bad effects of our complacency, if not taking advantage of it to produce a greater virtue.
This latter case can happen if we have the proper faith and attitude. As St. Paul would put it, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12,10) With Christ, death itself can give rise to our resurrection to eternal life, our final victory.
Among the things that we can do to counter our tendency to get accustomed to things and to fall victim to the desensitizing effect of complacency, routine and lukewarmness are the daily effort to make a good examination of conscience, a monthly recourse to a day of recollection, and a yearly spiritual exercise called a closed retreat.
These are good occasions to look more closely into how our spiritual and moral life has been faring, and to see, in a manner of speaking, what parts of our spiritual and moral life need to be cleaned up, oiled, or perhaps changed, revised or reengineered to adapt to changing circumstances.
We need to sharpen our desire to do these things because given our weaknesses, we usually do not like to do them. We should not forget that we like to enjoy more than to exert effort. Laziness and comfort-seeking is a legacy of our fallen nature.
These exercises can actually bring us to an indescribable sense of adventure, since we will realize sooner or later that there are many new things that are truly helpful to us and are waiting for us to discover. These new things would give us the sensation that we are flowing with the times, not stuck at a certain corner of time or a certain mold of culture.
We will soon discover that we have many more potentials that are just waiting to be tapped. These exercises help us in unleashing these potentials and putting them to optimal use and effectiveness for our own good and the good of all, and all for the glory of God.*