Long before Jesus’ coming, ancient peoples had been using the skins of animals as liquid containers. In Palestine these containers usually were made from goat skin. The skin was stripped from the slaughtered animal with a minimum of cutting and then tanned into a pliable leather. The openings were tied and sealed and the end-product was a lightweight leather bag-unbreakable-ideal for carrying almost any liquid on a journey. In English the container usually is referred to as a “wineskin,” even though it has been used from the beginning to carry water, milk and many other liquids besides wine. “No man pours new wine into old wineskins,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel Lesson. “If he does so, the wine will burst the skins and both wine and skins will be lost. No, new wine is poured into new skins” (Mk.2:22). The pressure of fermenting new wine would break a shriveled, old, dried-out wineskin and, as Jesus has said, both wine and wineskin would be lost. New…
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