All Things New: A Homily for May 19, 2019 by Deacon Alan Doty

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A few months ago I was talking with an extended family member about religion. “The thing about Christianity”, he said, “is that it repeats itself over and over again. Christmas then Lent and Easter over and over year after year”.

I thought of that comment when I looked at the liturgical calendar for this week, the fifth week of Easter. Fifth weeks of Easter- who are we kidding? Easter was so last month; as out of date as acid washed jeans. The plastic Easter eggs were packed up and put away long ago, chocolate bunnies are only a memory, and good luck finding jelly beans in the store. On to Memorial Day. And yet we have 3 weeks left in the Easter season.

And so, aware of potential Easter fatigue, the Church gives us this week’s readings with a message of new beginnings. “Behold, I make all things new,” the one who sits on the throne said in the second reading from the Book of the Revelation. The old order has passed away.  There will be a new heaven, a new earth, a New Jerusalem.

God’s work of redemption that sustains and uplifts us until Jesus comes again at the end of time, is the ‘new creation’; a new heaven and a new earth. The new city of Jerusalem, which is the Church, is one in which God will reside with God’s people.

The theme of making things new continues in today’s Gospel where Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

How are you – how are we – being made new this Easter season?

Remember who it is that makes all things new. It is only God who has the power to create; it is God the Father, creator of heaven and earth, who makes all things new. It means that to become new is to allow God to work through us, to participate in His work of creation. So the first thing to do is to make sure we have a relationship with God. We are transformed and made new by the grace of his Sprit working within us.

If you long for a change, a new relationship perhaps with your spouse or your family, start with a new relationship with God. We participate in God’s creative power by seeking his will and immersing ourselves in it. Our actions, our efforts, our will are necessary seeds that through God’s grace awaken into newness; seeds necessary but not sufficient because it is only God who creates.

“Behold, I make all things new”.

What needs to be made new in today’s world? Looking around we can see a few candidates. New relationship in and between neighbors, our community, and nations.  A new respect for the dignity of human life. An outpouring of new and properly ordered understanding and appreciation for God’s gifts of nature, of intellect, and of sexuality. A new deluge of faith within ourselves and within the Church.

In today’s Gospel, Christ, son of God and one with the Father, gives a new commandment” ‘love one another as I have loved you’. It is a new commandment because it flows from what was newly revealed by the mission of Jesus – the revelation of divine love, of God’s perfect creation. The complete, unconditional, and self-sacrificing love relationship between Jesus and his Father, and between God and humanity. God created the world through love; by love, God reveals himself and gives himself to man. The law and the prophets had already instructed love but only in Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death can love and life have the final word. Only in him can we love with a divine as well as human love, to love ‘as I have loved you’. His object in loving us was to enable us to love one another.

In another sense the commandment to love one another is new because it is called for by the new set of circumstances fast approaching the community of the disciples. After Jesus’ ascension to the Father, the community will no longer have the physical presence of Jesus to make divine love visible in their midst. Their own, equally visible, love for one another must instead take on this role. When we love as he loved we are made new; heirs to the new covenant and singers of the new song.

“Behold, I make all things new”.

Brothers and sisters, enter into the current of newness, of new relationships with God and with one another, the new commandment of love.  Don’t just dip your toe in it or gaze upon it from a distance. Immerse yourself in the stream of loving new creation flowing from God. If you do, Easter will remain new and fresh not just through Pentecost but throughout your life on earth and even beyond, in eternal life.

What did I tell my family member who asked me about religion? That we do not grow jaded or bored with the cycle of the seasons of the Church year – Christmas, Lent, Easter and the rest, because we are in fact new creations, new every year but also every day, not the same people as last Easter.  Easter is ever new because we are ever made new.

“Behold, I make all things new”.

These are words God speaks daily. He speaks them to us and through us. In this new order of reality, of post resurrection, of Easter,  where death no longer has the final word over creation, is one in which the Lord gives us his new commandment to love one another, ‘just as I have loved you’.

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