‘New’ is a recurring word in today’s readings. I began to wonder what the word actually means to a Christian because in today’s world it can have a number of connotations, some of them negative. In a throwaway or consumer culture it could mean disposing of something because it’s out of fashion or because it doesn’t have the latest features or updates. When a smartphone or laptop, though still in perfect working order, ceases to be the latest, some people are willing to pay for a completely new version to replace it. This seems to display a certain craving for novelty for its own sake.
Is this the type of newness which John talks about in Revelation and the Gospel – “a ‘new’ heaven and a ‘new’ earth, or I make all things ‘new’ or yet still I give you a ‘new’ commandment”?
The English word ‘new’ has two possible Greek translations: neos which gives us the prefix ‘neo’, often meaning a new or recent version of something or even a re-hash of something: neo-colonialism, neo-classicism, or heaven forbid, neo-Nazism.
Is the author talking about a new heaven and a new earth that replaces the old one, or is he discussing the old heaven and earth being renewed?
The wordkainos which is the actual word used by the Gospel-writer emphasizes that there is a radical change from what went before. It is not a question of our identity disappearing; rather, it is transformed into a new configuration, in which we can see and recognize ourselves but which at the same time is new.
Just as each Lent is an opportunity for us to grow closer to what we are called to be, so too in each Easter time we celebrate our progress along the path to perfection. Then next Lent we will be given the opportunity to build on what we celebrate in Easter time.
John’s emphasis is on the fact that the power of the Lord’s Resurrection is seen in human history, in my history.
In the words of the hymn by the Benedictine monks of Weston Priory: “New life, new creation, alive our sense of wonder; the time has come to be reborn; the kingdom is right here, the kingdom is right here.
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