When I was a sophomore in college, I began a tradition of blocking out some time during Holy Week to watch The Passion. There is definitely an assortment of opinions that surround this movie, but for me being a more visual learner this film allows me to be immersed in the great sacrifice that Christ made for each of us.
There is one scene that has always moved me in particular- Mary seeing her son collapsing under the weight and strain of the cross, so she runs to Him. The movie then flashes back and forth between Mary running to Jesus as a child who had tripped, and Him currently weak falling under the cross. All Mary wants to do in both cases is simply let Him know he is not alone. As she embraces Him, Jesus looks into her eyes and says, “See Mother, I make all things new.”
Even though the movie took some creative liberties with using that line, (by that I mean it is not found in the actual Passion Narrative but in Revelations 21:5) I believe it was used in such a fitting way and is something we should reflect on as this Easter season approaches. The last two chapters of Revelation are centered on this theme of newness that Christ promises all people throughout his ministry, and which comes to its fulfillment in his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection three days later. Christ’s Paschal Mystery allows the old to pass away, and gives each of us the ability to achieve fullness of life by participating in a New Heaven, a New Earth, and a New Jerusalem. As Paul says to the Romans, “are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”
It is appropriate that we celebrate Easter during the spring season. Especially, coming out of one of the coldest winters on record there is newness of life all around us. We once again can feel the warmth of the sun on our faces, see beautiful flowers begin to blossom, and hear different animals interacting with the world once again. We are inspired to clean our homes, begin working out again, and start enjoying the outdoors. This newness comes with a refreshing wave of energy that inspires us to transform and renew our lives. It is something that we each strive for, and is built into the core of each person thanks to our creator. As Thomas Merton explains, “There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves.”
When framed as newness we find this concept refreshing an unintimidating, that being said however to achieve this newness of life we are required to embrace change. Most people run when they hear the word change, but newness of life is only achievable by accepting that we to must undergo a dying and rising of self. Throughout the past couple of months we have been participating in the Lenten tenants of fasting, praying and almsgiving, and do so not to arrive at Easter the same person that we were on Ash Wednesday, but as a changed and transformed disciple eager to accept the newness of life promised to us by Christ. By doing so we draw closer to being someone who is fully alive, which intern makes God’s glory visible to all people.
If you have sometime this week, I encourage you to re-watch that clip from the passion, and prayerfully read through the last two chapters of Revelations.