We have a mania for new things. Cars are traded in; appliances, which were once kept for decades, become obsolete in a few years. There is always the ‘newest’ thing that causes the rage. Something only becomes ‘vintage’ after many years in a closet. Things in-between are cast off and either given away or discarded completely. For accumulators, they are often piled high in the garage.
Unfortunately, we treat people like they are things. Youth is still valued over age. But ageism is getting to be a bit dicey since the numbers in that age pool are so great that they are becoming a political force!
So when Christ says in he New Testament: “See, I am making all things new!”, it loses some of its counter-cultural punch. Modern Americans would say “Good!”, but the words of Christ are not so casually dismissed.
Underneath the secular quest for novelty is the age-old boredom and vanity of the ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ message. What people call ‘new’ today is really a tired retread of a past version of the same.
What Jesus offers the world is what is truly new; not a return to a previous repetition, but a connection with the Divine that is constantly changing, emerging and reshaping our reality.
A few years ago, a movie came out called “Groundhog Day”, and in it the protagonist is stuck in time by repeating the same day over and over again until he knows what will happen at every moment, but is condemned to repeat it.
Because Jesus is the Incarnation of God, the reality of His Divine Nature embedded in the truly human makes every moment a new creation. And because of our own humanity, we co-create the ever-new reality of life that changes at every moment. Everything has been charged with the Divine through the Incarnation and by our constantly evolving Humanity. Therefore, our decisions and choices are ever new and ever creative.
Life, hence, not a cyclical process, but a linear movement toward the complete fulfillment of our hope. Once we truly see this, then our life and our everyday reality of existence becomes suffused with possibility.
We live in a world where everything coheres. Every single decision is important to us and to God and to the World. Meaning is at the heart of everything and even the life of a hermit in prayer has international significance. No two days are the same and we are released from the monotony of the retreads of reality. All things become new since the drama of salvation is lived out by each of us in the daily life we all live. Unlike the world that is hierarchical in understanding, the life, lets say of an elderly person living alone in Astoria, is as important to God as negotiations between nations.
This is an important distinction between novelty and true newness. The world is constantly running after novelty. Novelty is just a reformulation of past formulas that have been at least partially successful. It is this quest for new reformulations that the book of Ecclesiastes struggles against when it proclaims: “There is nothing new under the sun”. You see this especially in the world of popular entertainment. Perhaps there was a little bit of newness in the first Batman cartoon, but how many retreads have we seen that have produced the same story with only minor changes?
There is something vaguely reassuring in this same old world. But this is not the powerful newness that Christ brings to every moment. For in Christ, the present moment becomes both a meeting with the beloved Jesus and a new and glorious adventure filled with challenges, but always directed by the strong hand of the Beloved.
As Christ makes all things new, we co-create with Him the new world and the Kingdom of God bit by bit, second by second, word by word, action by action. The only thing that thwarts this triumphant movement begun at the Resurrection is the work of the devil, when through fear and lack of faith we settle into the familiar patterns of our default setting. At that moment the radiant reality of the Kingdom of God loses its color, it’s music and the drab daily rounds hold sway in the gray world of meaninglessness and demonic reduction. We then become bored with God and begin to forsake the new and we go back to searching for the pathetic novelties that are the very opposite of the newness of Christ.
At every moment we are presented with this choice, and at every moment we can awake to the awareness of Christ or sink back into the sleepwalking state of the ‘living dead’.