It is perhaps the most breathtaking and recognized line in the Book of Revelation; “Behold, I make all things new.” It’s easy to see this scripture verse coming to life all around us these days. The forsythia branches are bursting with flowers, Hosta’s are rising to life out of the dry earth, lilac bushes and trees are filled with new buds. Yes, God’s promise to make all things new is unfolding right before our very eyes in this season of Resurrection. After months of a dreary hibernation, the joy of Spring permeates our hearts, sending us rummaging through our closets in a frantic search for flip-flops and sandals.
However, even after the joy of the resurrection, St. Paul gives us a reality check, that there will be many hardships in entering the Kingdom of God. Even in the brilliance of Easter Spring we still have loved ones unexpectedly clinging to life in hospitals. The homeless are still sleeping under bridges and bypasses, and the poor still go to bed hungry. We still have sickening wars, hatred and prejudice, hearts filled with grudges and blame, and yes, we still too often resist letting go of our lesser selves and embracing the presence of the risen Lord within us. It seems that God’s promise to make all things new can be seen much easier in our tulip beds than in our daily lives.
But John’s Gospel has another reality check for us; “God’s dwelling is with the human race.” So while human hardships may be significant, we are not alone because it is God who dwells within the very heart of our humanity, within the very heart of our pain and poverty. But in order to recognize it, Jesus calls us to see it through a new lens, through a “New Commandment” of love that goes way beyond simply loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus’ “New Commandment” was that we love each other as Jesus loves us, as God loves us. If we find it difficult to get past our many excuses, alibies, and reasons why we can’t or won’t love “that person” or “those people,” let’s remember that Jesus’ “New Commandment” to love one another was given just moments after “that person” Judas had betrayed him.
As we marvel at the beauty and wonder of creation rising to new life this Spring, perhaps we can look through the lens of Jesus’ “New Commandment” to love and see in the flower buds and blossoms the human faces of the immigrant and homeless, the sick and the dying, the faces of those who are not so easily loveable. Once we begin to love each other as Jesus loves us, then we can begin to understand John’s breathtaking words of revelation – “Behold God’s dwelling is with the human race…Behold, I make all things new.”