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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

Unshrunk cloth on an old garment



Jesus Christ, Glory is to Him, said "No one puts a

piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment" (Mt 9:16)

(Mk 2:21).

The person who still has the old man inside him,

is the one who didn't yet receive the grace of

baptism; because in baptism the old man is then

crucified (Ro 6:6), and he is newly reborn "Through

the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy

Spirit (Titus 3:5).

Though the old garment may also symbolize

old sinful habits residing inside a person and he

didn't yet get rid of them. He could still has inside

him traces of loving the world, loving material and

loving sin, traces of self loving or love of authority, he

cannot establish a pure life abiding in the Lord on

such traces, otherwise his good deeds will be like a

new piece of cloth on an old garment!

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

We remember at this point what was

mentioned in the first chapter of the book of

Isaiah the Prophet, when God rejected worship and

rites from people who lived in sin saying to them: " I

have had enough of burnt offerings…I do not delight

in the blood of bulls…Bring no more futile sacrifices…I

cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your

New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates;

They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing

them. When you spread out your hands, I will

hide My eyes from you; Even though you make

many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are

full of blood. "Wash yourselves, make yourselves

clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before

My eyes. (Is 1:11-16).

He says to those people whom their hands are full

of blood: what is the use of your sacrifices, burnt

offerings, religious rituals, caring to celebrate feasts

and religious occasions?! I cannot endure all that.

Why? Because it is a new religious piece of cloth put

on a garment which is contaminated with blood, with


􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

God doesn't want a fake appearance of being

religious which comes out of a heart polluted

with sin. That's why He says "When you spread out

your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even

though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your

hands are full of blood". He also says "The prayer of

the wicked is an abomination to the LORD", Because

God wants a prayer which comes out of a pure heart.

But who stands to pray with his hands full of blood;

God doesn't listen to his prayer.

Another example: in the story of the

Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Pharisee stood

for prayer trusting in himself that he was righteous,

whereas he was full of pride, exaltation and judging

others. Despite all that he says in his prayer "God, I

thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners,

unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast

twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess" (Lk

18:11, 12), And so God didn't accept his prayer,

fasting or his tithes as all that was an unshrunk cloth

on an old garment of pride and judging others. And

that is why he didn't leave the temple justified as the

repenting humble tax collector.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Another example is Judas Iscariot:

He took an unshrunk piece of cloth which was his

walking with the Saints God's disciples, on a heart full

of betrayal, loving of money and steeling, as he used

to take what was put in the money box. But he hid

behind this new unshrunk cloth; he was one of the

Twelve, it was also confined to him the power to cast

out demons.

Despite all that, all his life with Jesus Christ was

as a new cloth of religious appearances which is far

from the life of true righteousness and loving God.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Another example: Ananias and Sapphira (Ac 5).

They loved money; they had no problem with

lying for the sake of money. They found that the

majority of the believers were selling their

possessions and were bringing its prices at the

Apostles' feet. So they wanted to also have this

appearance and to put this new unshrunk piece of

cloth on their old garment which was characterized

with loving money and loving to lie; so they sold a

possession, kept back part of the proceeds, they

brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet

as being the whole amount! And so Peter the Apostle

unveiled their deceit as they lied to the Holy Spirit so

they fell down and died. Their alms-giving was an

unshrunk cloth on an old garment, which didn't do

anything good to them; it was only a fake appearance

of spirituality with a heart that contained sin and


􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

This also reminds us with the story of Simon

the Pharisee who wanted to bring into his life

another appearing view of inviting Christ to his

house. But inwardly he didn't love the Christ, he

rather wanted to see Him, watch Him and find guilt in

Him. So he invited Christ to his house without inviting

Him into his own heart and stood there waiting for the


When the repenting sinful woman came, and

when she began to wash His feet with her tears, and


wiped them with the hair of her head; hence the truth

of the Pharisee started to come out and said in his

heart about the Christ "This Man, if He were a

prophet, would know who and what manner of

woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a

sinner" (Lk 7:39). That is why the Lord brought his

intentions out unveiling the new cloth which he was

putting on the old garment. He revealed to Simon

how that sinful woman was even better than him and

that her many sins were forgiven for she loved much.

God showed to that Pharisee his large number of sins

which he wanted to cover them with a new piece of

cloth which was inviting the Master to his house.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

The story of Simon the Pharisee reminds us with

any person who tries to show his love towards

another one through nice words, letters or

sentimental phrases while on the same time he

doesn't really love him; these trials are like a new

piece of cloth put on an old garment, and hence

comes all the flattery terms.

It reminds us also of another example: a

person who doesn't really love the service and

the ones being served, despite that he becomes

a servant in the church.

He then becomes popular being known as a

servant and takes the fame of being a Church servant

and at that point it is only a new piece of cloth, but all

that is put on an old garment, on a person who is torn

up inside him who hasn't got love for God or for


􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

I will speak about another example, about a

righteous person whom the Bible says that he is

righteous (2 P 2:8): 'Lot' whom I ask him to

forgive me what I am about to say:

He had the appearance that he was living with

our Father Abram whom God had blessed and said to

him "and you shall be a blessing" (Gn 12). Inside

himself he loved the well watered land, land which

was like the garden of the LORD, like the land of

Egypt (Gn 13:10), to the extent that he chose the

land and separated himself from our Father Abram;

he lived among the evil people in Sodom " for that

righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his

righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing

their lawless deeds" (2 P 2:8). And by that he even

lost the piece of cloth which was his living with Father

Abram, it all ended up by being carried away captive

with Sodom, and when his uncle Abram saved him

from the captivity he returned once more to Sodom

and didn't leave it till the Angel of the lord made him

leave Sodom on the day of its destruction (Gn 19).

Another example: a person who confesses

his sins, but without repentance.

Proof of that is his going back to his sins once

more even after his confession and partaking of the

Holy Communion, he then confesses once more and

goes back to sin again; all his confession and

partaking of the Holy Communion is only a new piece

of cloth on an old garment for a heart who hasn't yet

reached repentance…his old man remains as it is

when he only took an appearance of a spiritual life.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

This resembles he who prostrates himself in

front of his brother without really feeling that

he did something wrong and without regretting

it. He says to him, are you angry with me brother,

here I bow to you! That is only an outside

appearance; a piece of cloth on an old garment not

admitting that he is wrong. For that reason, once a

brother asked an old father: why do I prostrate

myself to my brother and he doesn't accept me, he

answered: that is because you prostrate yourself to

him without humbleness, Which means without

repentance and regret.

As when sometimes happens to lots of Monksduring

the evening gathering- the Monk passes by all

his colleges and says to them forgive me for I sinned,

without really feeling in his heart that he did

something wrong to anyone!! And without feeling that

he needs to be forgiven, or needs an absolution.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

So, a person should be transformed inwardly so

that he would acquire external innocence "be

transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Ro

12:2), which means that his mind should first be

renewed and consequently his heart also will be

renewed. Hence his heart is no more like an old

garment but un doubtfully like a new garment; if he

apologizes he does it from the heart and if he says I

did something wrong he then means it from the

bottom of his feelings and not just saying so, if he

prays its not only just his mouth uttering words but

he prays from the bottom of his heart and of his

feelings, otherwise he would be like those whom God

rebuked saying "These people draw near to Me with

their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their

heart is far from Me" so it is not acceptable that a

prayer of a person becomes like a new piece of cloth

on an old garment.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Another example: a person whose heart

didn't yet cease loving the world, he goes to

Monasticism whereas Monasticism in itself is a

death of the world.

This person puts on the Monastic clothes and his

heart is still apart from Monasticism. He takes a new

name and new appearance whereas Monasticism is

not just a name, appearance or clothes; all that

becomes like an unshrunk cloth on an old garment if

the heart still didn't abstain from the world and all its


􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

We also apply this on fasting.

Is fasting only eating vegetarian food?! Or is the

vegetarian food just another unshrunk cloth if not

associated with abstaining from eating and self

discipline whether in caring for the delight of food

even if appearing as being vegetarian or acquiring

self discipline towards sins which the fasting person

used to commit before fasting. So, as his mouth fasts,

his tongue should also fast and abstain from every

wrong word, his heart also should abstain from all

bad desires, his senses should abstain from doing

what is inappropriate. If he doesn't do this… then his

fasting is only just a new cloth on an old garment…

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Of those who took an unshrunk cloth on an

old garment is: Saul the King.

He was the first king anointed for Israel, and also

he was the first king to be rejected by God and a

distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him (1 S

16:14). He was given the Holy anointment; he

prophesied and was said about him "Is Saul also

among the prophets?" (1 S 10:11). But all that was


only just a new piece of cloth on an old garment, on a

heart full of pride and bitter feeling towards David

that he tried to kill him more than once…he took the

Holy anointment but he rejected its work in his heart

and that is why he was as well rejected by God. And

when Samuel the Prophet mourned for Saul, God told

him "How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have

rejected him?!" (1 S 16:1).

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Another example is the unshrunk cloth that

appears in sides or worships:

Like a person standing in the church repeating

hymns and praises with no spirit or passion. Yet with

an accurate rhythm, tight voice vibrations and proper

memorizing but the heart from inside is an old

human. Such a person does not get any advantage

from the music or the hymn because his soul does not

go with his rhythm.

Or a deacon wearing the white deacon clothes

that is consecrated by the priest and stands in the

altar but he does not respect the altar and does not

care for humility inside it or gets busy with many

other things rather than praying. So what is this white

deacon clothes that symbolizes the purity of heart>!

It is also, with such a person, just an unshrunk

cloth of an old garment.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

We want the person who has from inside the

pure heart that loves God and from outside the

good deeds that glorifies God.

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