No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.
(Gospel of Mark 2:22)
Of the many memorable things that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said to the world during his great ministry, one of my favorites is this: “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” The only thing I would add to Dr. King’s wisdom is that when we truly realize there is good in the worst of us, not only are we less prone to hate our enemies, but we are also more likely to unite. New wine into new wineskins!
In a public speaking course during my undergraduate years at St. John’s University, our professor took Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, divided it into segments, and assigned them to several students in the class. When they were ready, my classmates delivered their portions of the speech. And no matter how well each one did in their delivery, our professor would remark: “There’s not enough passion in your voice! You need more passion!”
She had set before us an impossible task. After all, who could possibly capture the passion of Dr. King as he delivered that address? It was hardly fair of my professor to expect the same of her class. And yet we should try. That was her point, I think. When we look to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., we see a wonderful example of a passion and faithfulness worthy of our best attempts at emulation. Like Jesus, Dr. King lived and died for what he believed in. And so, we remember. We pour new wine into fresh skins and focus on the faith and passion that can unite us in the present age. The presidential inauguration on Wednesday can give us new hope. The COVID vaccines can offer us safety. But it will take all of us, living and working together in faith, to be the change our world truly needs.
Once our spring semester begins and our campus comes to life again, we will resume the programming that helps to advance our mission and our work for racial justice. Please mark your calendars for our annual MLK Convocation, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Our keynote speaker this year will be Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead, associate professor of Communications and African and African American Studies at Loyola University Maryland, a three-time New York Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, and the award-winning radio host of Today with Dr. Kaye on WEAA 88.9FM. Dr. Whitehead will speak on “The Fire This Time: Racial Justice, COVID-19, and the Future of America.”
Information on other programs and activities will be posted soon.
I hope everyone you know and love is safe and healthy. May 2021 bring us new promise and good wine for new wineskins.
Joseph G. Marina, SJ