In a movie chock full of startling moments, this was one of the most startling of all.
Toward the end of The Passion of the Christ, Jesus—bloodied, battered, defiled Jesus, struggling under the weight of his cross as he slouches toward Calvary—this Jesus stumbles, falls, and recovers, and then looks up to see the anguished face of his mother.
And he manages to force a smile, briefly, and speaks the words in Aramaic that we know so well from the book of Revelation.
"See, mother," he whispers, with irony, "behold. I make all things new."
What juxtaposition! What a searing truth. In the midst of an agonizing death, the Christ was offering a painful, almost joyful proclamation of life. Suffering would bring redemption; out of destruction, we would find salvation. Good would come from evil.
This was something utterly new.
That line and that moment stayed with me long after the movie had ended. It really is the crux of Christian hope—the desire and ability to remake our lives and see anew the world around us. This, our exile, this vale of tears, this place of suffering and hardship and want is also a place of unending possibility. We are always able to begin again. I'm not sure any of us realize that as much as we should.
It's one reason that I've claimed those words as the title for this little enterprise here at Patheos. "All Things New" will be observations about things large and small, from my perspective as a deacon in the Catholic Church—where, believe me, I see and hear a lot of things that are, indeed, new. It will be an offshoot, in some ways, of my little blog next door, The Deacon's Bench, which regularly offers news and items of interest that often slip through the cracks.
I don't intend this column to be all churchy. Periodically, I'll offer reflections about my life as a husband, journalist, writer, and editor. With luck, you won't be bored.
Don't expect earth-shattering insights or great profundities, because I haven't got any. I'm not a theologian or a philosopher. I'm just a struggling Catholic, putting out into the deep, scanning the skies for signs of life and signs of hope, and trying, in the process, to steer clear of icebergs. It isn't easy.
Anyone who is familiar with my homilies (which I inflict on people every Sunday and reprint, because I can, over on my blog) will have a fair idea of what you're in for. In short: brief reflections on the way we live, and struggle, and stumble, and pray, and try to find God here and there, and make sense of a world that is so often senseless. When I can, as much as I can, I'll also dip into the headlines for ideas and a little head-scratching (though, frankly, I don't intend for this to be "All Things News"). A wise man once suggested that a preacher should climb into the pulpit with the scripture in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Makes sense to me. And, in many ways, it's how I try to make the world make sense, too.
The simple, beautiful reality is that the world is continually being remade, and our lives are constantly poised for starting something new.We can be redeemed, saved, forgiven, absolved. Our faith is one of astonishing renewal—with lepers being healed and the blind regaining sight and tombs, in a shattering instant, being flung open so that the dead can stagger out into the light. Water becomes wine, and sinners become saints.
All things are possible when all things are new.
And isn't that a wonder?