What is new?

Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity … there is nothing new under the sun. These are the famous words from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, words that give expression to a rather pessimistic and cynical view of life in this world. The problem is that these words are divinely inspired truth.

The modern project, we could call it, has sought to prove God wrong. Through science and technology, modern man has sought to change the world and produce something new. Despite all the marvelous inventions and changes, man remains the same, subject to the same old vices of vain-glory, envy, wrath, laziness (especially of the spiritual kind), avarice, lust, and gluttony.  Despite all the miracles of medicine, men still die. Despite the marvels of the ‘information revolution’ men are still plunged in ignorance, indeed maybe more now than ever before. The modern project sought to prove God wrong, but now as we move deeper into the post-modern era it is becoming ever more clear that the modern project has failed.

The truth is that man cannot change this passing world except in a rather superficial, though sometimes destructive, manner. Man cannot save himself. Man cannot produce anything truly new under the sun.

Nevertheless, the words of Ecclesiastes come from the Old Testament, before the time of Jesus Christ, before the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel comes not from man, but from God. The word means, “Good News”, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the one new thing under the sun.

Only God, the Creator, can make something truly ‘new’. In the beginning he created the world and it was ‘new’. The world would have remained ‘new’ except that we made it ‘old’ by turning away from God. Sin makes things to be ‘old’.

Now, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, God has done something new; he has begun to re-create the world and his last word will be, Behold, I make all things new. (Rev 21:5)

The union of God and man in Jesus Christ is new. The victory over sin that he won through his death on the Cross is new. The victory over death that he won by his Resurrection is new. The gift of his Holy Spirit through which he forgives our sins, sanctifies us, gives us his life, transforms us, and recreates us, is new. This is the Gospel, the “Good News”.

After 2,000 years we are tempted to think that this is now ‘old news’, but Jesus Christ never grows old and the Holy Spirit never grows old. Through the power of his Holy Spirit, Jesus always is ready to make us ‘new’. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is always ready to do something in us that he has never done before. Each saint is a new creation of God; each saint is a new expression of the inexhaustible abundance of life that is found in Christ. Jesus wants to make each one of us into a new saint, unlike any that has gone before us.

Jesus Christ is the one new thing under the sun, and in him we too have been made new, and we wait in hope for the eternal newness of the life of the Resurrection, promised to us in Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead.

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.

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