By Fr. Humberto, PES
“Behold, I make all things new.” [Rev 21: 5a]
In Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, he has Jesus say these words to His Mother, as they encounter each other along the Way of the Cross. His reason must have been to emphasize what we hear in our Gospel today…that it is through the suffering and death of our Lord that His name is glorified. It is one of the many paradoxes of the Christian life. Death leads to new life, and the power of the resurrection is in the unfathomable love of our God who died so that we could share eternal life with Him in heaven. This is how He makes all things new: everything is transformed in the light of His love.
In Times of Sadness
It is estimated that St Paul travelled more than 10,000 miles in his life, on foot or by boat, telling people about this victory of love. He is said to have visited more than 50 cities. In a letter to the people of Corinth, he said, “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….” [2 Cor 4: 8-9] In our parish, these last weeks have been a time of sadness, with the news that our school will not offer grades K-8 in the fall. It can be very difficult to see the Lord making all things new when times are difficult.
But it strikes me that this is exactly the right context in which to hear those words: “Behold, I make all things new.” Our Lord invites us to trust in Him, more than we trust in the things we are feelings or experiencing. He wants to remind us in the most difficult moments that He is always with us...we are never alone…and He never stops renewing His Church.
Back to Paul and Barnabas
In our first reading today we see Paul and Barnabas continuing their travels, preaching as they go. At the end of our reading, they return to the city of Antioch. Last week we saw them rejected and thrown out of that town by its leaders. Paul and Barnabas shook the dust of the city from their feet, because Christ was not welcome there. They said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” [Acts 13: 46] Though perhaps they didn’t understand, they trusted that God’s hand was in the circumstances they faced. They had preached Christ and seeds had been planted. They trusted that it was God who would make them grow.
And that is exactly what happened. Today we see them returning to Antioch to find an established Church that rejoices with them. God has truly made all things new through the apparent failure of their first visit. The Gentiles are being converted to Christianity, and though the people of Antioch have surely suffered, the Church there is firm in their faith. Perhaps the suffering of the Church in Antioch was needed so that the Gentiles would have the grace to be open to the word of God.
Often we can’t see or understand the plan of God, but we must trust that in our day, He continues to make all things new. These past weeks I have spoken with many of you who are suffering, and doing your best to trust in God. Let’s hear Him speaking these words to us now…“Behold, I make all things new!” My brothers and sisters, we may not see how, but He is always renewing us. He is always making things new.
In our Gospel today, our Lord gives us the new commandment to love one another as He loves us. [See Jn 13: 34] Isn’t this how He renews us…by inviting us to live in the light of the resurrection and to love like Him? When we participate in His love in this way, through grace, we become part of the victory of love which was won for us through the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord. In a very real way, we share in His making all things new.