Sometimes what seems new is not. For what seems new is something forgotten from the past. What we might now experience as new is taking the path of returning to the Garden of Eden, wherein humanity experienced directly the love of God and life without sin. It was an existence in which loving God was more important than anything else and serving each other was always the second consideration. What is too often forgotten is what Jesus Christ came to announce: the presence of the Kingdom of God — something old offered new again.
The Israelites had been held in exile in Babylon for several generations. While in Babylon, some of what the Jews had believed was lost as many of them had been slowly assimilated into Babylonian culture. King Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylon in 538 B.C., allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem, but what they had left had been destroyed. The Book of Nehemiah describes the rebuilding Jerusalem and the efforts to help the people regain a sense of who they were as a religious people.
Many of the Israelites had worked hard to keep a sense of who they were while in captivity in Babylon, but once freed, they were like college freshmen away from home for the first time. They strayed away from their roots. Most of the Israelites did not even speak Hebrew anymore, most now speaking Aramaic.
While rebuilding the Temple, scrolls that had been hastily hidden in the Temple during the Babylonian conquest were found. Today Nehemiah tells us how Ezra read the Law to the people, the Law that had been forgotten. He read in the original Hebrew, so someone else had to translate. What was old was new again. In the Law the people saw the identity they had lost, yet deep inside had longed for. They remembered, and they sought to recapture the way of life that had offered clarity and peace.
In the synagogue, listeners of Jesus heard about a new way of life, a way in which all are served, especially the poor and the outcast. Paul describes a new way of life as well. In attempting to bring unity to the Church in Corinth, Paul leaves us a legacy of how all Christian communities should live. It is a life of “being in holy communion,” of living in unity. It is a unity based on the person and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Let us rediscover what we may have forgotten or have not taken seriously. Let us rediscover that faith in Christ leads us to unity and peace. It leads to the Kingdom in which all are served. We must let God show us the way. Our way hasn’t worked out all that well.BACK TO LIST