“See I Make All Things New”

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a new commandment:  love one another.  As I have loved you, so also you should love one another. (cf John 13:34)  The commandment to love others is not really new.  In the Old Testament, God asked that we, “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Lev. 19:18).  However, Jesus has certainly stepped up the game, so to speak, to move us from loving someone else as much as we love ourselves to loving the other the way Jesus loves.  He is inviting us into a sacrificial love; one that always seeks the good of the other despite the cost to us. 

In reflecting on this statement of Jesus’, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. ” (2842)  In other words, we can’t keep this commandment by ourselves, by “watching” Jesus and then by our own efforts attempting to imitate him.  We can only love in this way by loving others from inside the heart of Jesus, by being incorporated into His life and love, and living and loving through and with Him. 

How can we do this?  In the second reading (Rev. 21:1-5), we have the image of the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.  The new heavens and the new earth, the Holy City are not something we create or can bring about.  They come to us from heaven, gifts from the hand of a loving God.  Gifts can only be received or refused.  As St. James reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17)  God gives and we receive and in doing so, we begin to live more and more within him.  “In him we live and move and  have our being.” (Acts 17:28)  

It is important to note that even as we are more and more incorporated into His love and life, we do not cease to be ourselves.  We need not fear that in striving to be receptive and receive this love from God, that it will cost us the loss of our independence or our uniqueness. For the One sitting on the throne says, “Behold I make all things new.”  God is not making new things, but making all things new.  This is a work of renovation and the result of the work will be that we will be made whole, we will become as Matthew Kelly often says, “the best version of ourselves.”   

Allowing our work to be God’s work, opening ourselves up to be more and more receptive to His love and His grace not only allows us to participate in the renewing of the world but we become fully alive and fully ourselves in the process.  Who wouldn’t want that?!  

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