No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Mark 2:21
In today’s gospel, Jesus isn’t talking to us about sewing a cloak, but about the transformation of our lives and inviting us into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with him.
Listeners in Jesus’ time would have understood all about animal skins and how to work with them. They would have known that patching a piece of new cloth onto an old cloak wouldn’t work because the new one would age differently and pull away from the cloak, creating tears and puckering.
Our cloaks are our lives and we are often ashamed of their shabbiness. We are embarrassed of our flaws and what we hide from others: fears, jealousies, our lack of forgiveness or judgmental attitudes. In our fright, we pull our cloaks tighter and try to show the best side, but the fabric of our lives reveals the rips and tears we don't want to reveal to others.
Jesus is telling us that we don’t have to put on airs or pretend to be something we are not and we don’t have to hide the tattered cloak from him. He doesn’t want us to patch it with something that doesn’t fit, to fill the emptiness with the things our culture tell us will make us whole: shopping, drinking, drugs, a bigger house, a more prestigious school for our children or more activities to fill our time.
Instead, Jesus loves us right there in our very shame. It is into the real, messy and human side of our flawed lives that Jesus enters the holes in our lives and rather than patching us, heals us. He doesn’t want us to hide, but to bring him the many rips and wounds of our lives. There in that vulnerability, Jesus reaches into the dark and frightening holes and touches us in a profound new way, filled with an unimaginable love.
Today we are invited to put down the ill-fitting patches we think we need to cover our lives and to accept the warm embrace of God’s cloak of love, wrapping itself around us, covering our most vulnerable moments reminding us that we are loved.
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