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A-Z of Paul: Newness

Sunday, August 10, 2008
The whole of the Bible can be viewed as an epic of new creation. Very early on in the narrative God’s pristine creation is marred by the ugliness of sin and its effects. But although it has its ups and downs the story told throughout the Bible is one of redemption. The Lord makes something new out of the mess that human beings have made and re-establishes his covenantal relationship with them. This reaching by God to heal the wounds of sin and division reaches its climax in the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus where those who follow Christ are given a newly created dignity, bought with the price of his blood on the Cross, that of children of God, members of Christ’s mystical body.

For Paul this motif of newness takes pride of place. He says in 2 Cor. 5:17 : “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” In this passage St. Paul is trying to get across that the message of Our Lord requires us, and the gift of the Spirit enables us, to be transformed from our old worldly ways of being and acting. Our Lord Jesus tells us that we must be like little children of we are to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Little children?! Many of the people whom Paul was preaching to in Corinth were well educated, well-paid professionals and academics who had worked hard to get to the position they had reached. They had tried very hard to remove themselves form the status of children, who, let us not forget, had no legal rights in the Roman Empire. To them this preaching of newness and the message of Our Lord that a child-like trust in God was required must have seemed bizzare and totally unrealistic. It is a testament to the work of the Holy Spirit enflaming Paul and his companions that so many of the Corinthians became believers and established a thriving Christian community in Corinth. For St. Paul the newness that God gives to us is never ending, we are to be refreshed again and again, converted again and again, continually brought back to his love.

Daniel Mary Jeffries OP


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