THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for March 31st, 2014
Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
WHAT happens when a person gives their life to Jesus, when a soul is baptized and therefore consecrated to God? It’s an important question because, after all, what is the appeal of becoming a Christian? The answer lies in today’s first reading…
Isaiah writes, “Lo, I am about to create a new heavens and a new earth…” This passage is referring ultimately to the New Heavens and New Earth that will come after the end of the world.
When we are baptized, we become what St. Paul calls a “new creation”—that is, the “new heavens and new earth” are already anticipated in the “new heart” God gives us in Baptism whereby all original and personal sin are destroyed. cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1432 As it says in the first reading:
The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind.
We are made new from within. And this is more than just “turning a new leaf” or “starting over”; it is even more than the wiping away of your sins. It means that the power of sin over you has been broken; it means the Kingdom of God is now within you; it means that a new life of holiness is possible through grace. Thus, St. Paul says:
Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Cor 5:16-17)
This is a powerful reality, and why the language we use today for addicts can be misleading. “Once an addict, always an addict,” some say, or “I’m a recovering porn addict” or “alcoholic”, etc. Yes, there is a certain prudence in recognizing one’s weakness or proclivities…
For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)
…but in Christ, one is a new creation—behold, new things have come. Don’t live your life, then, as one who is always on the verge of backsliding, always in the shadow of the “old man,” always regarding yourself “according to the flesh.”
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self control. (2 Tim 1:7)
Yes, the weakness of yesterday is cause for today’s humility: you have to change your lifestyle, remove temptations, even change friends if they pose unhealthy allurements. ‘Do not be led astray: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”‘ —1 Cor 15:33 And you have to avail yourself of all the graces necessary to feed and continually strengthen your new heart, such as prayer and the Sacraments. That is what it means to “stand firm.”
But raise your head, child of God, and declare with utter joy that, ontologically, you are not the man you were yesterday, not the woman that was before. This is the incredible gift bought and paid for with Christ’s blood!
You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. (Eph 5:8)
Dead in our sin, Christ has “raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens”. cf. Eph 2:6 Even should you stumble, the grace of Confession restores the new creation that you now are. You are no longer destined to fail but, through Christ, to reveal the divine goodness of God “so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in [your] body.” cf. 2 Cor 4:10
You changed my mourning into dancing; O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks. (Today’s Psalm)
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