The one who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Then he said, "Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” He said to me, "They are accomplished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water.” Revelation 21:1-5
The assignment of this ancient Christian Feast to the first day of January, the New Year, on the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church is relatively new in the Western Church. However, the Feast and what it is intended to communicate are deeply rooted in the tradition.
Preachers give sermons that speak of the meaning of this day, both in the calendar of the Church and in the calendar of our secular society, this is because heaven has joined with earth and we are now offered a way to become truly new.
The Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity was made Incarnate. He became Man so that we can be made new, re-created through His saving life, death, resurrection, ascension and, upon His return, live the fullness of this new life in resurrected bodies in a new heaven and a new earth.
The united Church council of Ephesus (431 A.D.) defended the then prevalent use of this title within the whole church of the day against some who attempted to change it. In doing so, the leaders of the united Christian Church reaffirmed the heart of the Christian claim and the source of our hope.
Heaven has come to earth so that earth can come to heaven.
There is a universal longing in every human heart to be made new, to begin again. In and through Jesus Christ, there is also a way. The words with which I began this New Years greeting were revealed to the beloved disciple John, on the Island of Patmos, in a vision recorded for all at the very end of the Christian Bible. They are found in the last book, the Book of Revelation, or the “Apocalypse”. They express this cry of the entire human race and can answer our deepest longing if we respond. At this time of the year, when we end one year and begin a new one, we look at that same Son, who as a child, is seen playing in the dusty streets of Nazareth and is about to fall. With the tender love of a mother, Mary reached out to her Son. Then the viewer sees her hand touch the wounded face of the Savior who looks at her, and through words addressed to her speaks to every human person, from the beginning of time until the end: “Behold, I make all things new.” I am now reminded of this scene every New Years as I pray, take stock of the past year and offer myself afresh to the Lord.
The Passion of Christ is an extraordinary work of art and a profound encounter, with the only One who can “make all things new” Encounter Him we all did! By the end of this movie, there was not a dry eye in the place. However, of all the scenes, that encounter between mother and Son was the one that grabbed me at the core of my heart, and shook me to tears. They were tears of sorrow and joy co-mingled. It was so human and yet so divine, so full of promise and hope.
The wounds on the Savior’s sacred head, that had in the earlier scenes seemed so brutal, painful and hard to view, seemed to, almost in an instant, become beautiful. It all became clear that they were wounds of love, freely and redemptively embraced by the Savior, to “make all things new” for the entire human race.
***The author narrates
“Good” said Gibson “I wasn’t going to change it anyway.”
“For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if (I) do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Let us hear those words of extraordinary hope and promise and invite Him to live within us as Mary did when the Angel greeted her. Let us allow the Savior to take up residence in our hearts, our homes, our daily lives. That is how we truly can begin again. Let us remember that the one who bore the Savior in her womb, raised Him as mother and followed Him as a disciple, also points to Him in this title assigned to her and shows us the way to becoming new. That way is through Jesus Christ in whom all of creation is being made new.
She said “Yes” to God’s invitation. And, in that “Fiat”, that act of surrendered love, she shows us all the Christian way. When we say "yes" to Him He comes to make His home within us, and joined by Baptism to His Body, the Church, he is able to use us to continue His work of making all things new.
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen