Posted July 25, 2013 in Things New and Old:
His Word is Ever New

by Fr. David May.

It’s time for some changes to this column. Over the years, my column has evolved from one emphasis to another, and those changes have been reflected in the names.

It started as "Nazareth Today" in the 1980s, and somewhere in the ‘90s it became "The Long Haul." Then, in the last decade, it became "New Millennium." Now, in 2013, I’ve chosen still another heading for it: "Things New and Old."

This last one is based on the conclusion of Jesus’ parabolic discourse in Matthew 13, when he asks his disciples:

"Do you understand all these things?" "Yes," they answered. And he replied, "Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom things both new and old" (51-52).

Why this theme, this title? For one thing, I am making an act of faith that there still is something in my "storeroom" (literally "treasure") to bring forth for you, our readers! If there is anything "new," surely this will come from the Lord who makes all things new (Rev 21:5), and who alone can do so.

The "new" a writer brings forth is from the spring within welling up to eternal life (John 4:14). Without that spring, coming of course from the Spirit, the best we humans can do is rearrange things in a way we hope our readers have not seen before.

That scribe brings forth things both new and old, because he brings the new teaching to bear on what has gone before—whether from the Old Testament itself, or from (to us) "old" stories we are familiar with in the New Testament.

Catherine said once that she could sit with just a very few words of Scripture at a time, even just a verse or two, and slowly but surely these would be opened up to her understanding by the Holy Spirit.

The scriptural words would give way to the Word, and now she would be with him in the way he wished. Gradually, a new understanding would emerge, and she would become absorbed by that word until it was no longer simply she who lived, but Christ lived in her.

A similar process happens with life itself. Is there not a "new" way of understanding whatever is happening, whatever has happened, something we may so far have missed?

Rather than "same old, same old"—a phrase that we apply to past and present events—what if something new is continually created in the lives of those who turn their faces to the Lord in the midst of whatever is happening:

All of us, gazing with unveiled faces on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory as from the Lord who is the Spirit…

So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God…" (2 Cor 3: 18, 5:17-18a)

Summer is a season when it is not too difficult to turn our attention towards the various ways God reveals his glory to us in the sheer beauty of the bounty and fruitfulness of nature.

Here in eastern Ontario, for example, I enjoy listening for the different bird songs that can be heard as the nesting season, which peaks in May-June, gives way later in the season to the time of caring for the fledglings and, then finally, before too long, to the preparing to fly south.

In Madonna House, there is also another sound, one that rises to a crescendo as we make our steady way through July and August: it is the sound of dozens and dozens of conversations.

For during this time of year, our summer program is in full swing, and the number of young guests staying with us rises to its high point for the year.

Some people are simply visiting together outside, chatting about this and that. A group is playing volleyball in the parking lot between the main house and St. Goupil’s dorm, and they’re not being quiet about it!

From the shore of the Madawaska River, you can hear the somewhat muffled yet magnified conversation of three people heading off in a canoe. In quieter corners, here and there, spiritual direction is taking place. Around 5 p.m., Mary Davis is shouting after the dog: "Kay-leeeeeee…. Supper!"

These sights and sounds are the same every year, or so it would seem to the casual observer. But if you had eyes to see and ears to hear what is going on in people’s hearts around here, you would see and you would hear a marvelous tale of new worlds opening up.

Here, one comes back to God, while someone else meets him for the first time. There, another finds friendships that will last a lifetime. Hope is born in a heart over here. A vocation to priesthood or consecrated life or marriage is confirmed over there.

Christ is at work in a thousand ways through the simple obedience to him that is lived out in coming here, spending some time… even a lifetime for some of us! Thus it is wherever people surrender their lives to the Lord of all times and all places.

Yet such beginnings are only that—beginnings.

However it comes about, through whatever circumstances—from adoration to Mass to recreation to conversation to hard manual labor under the burning sun—each one will be called to sit with Jesus, the living Word and to meditate on the words he has given us, especially in the Gospels.

This is the only the way the seeds can go deep, put down roots, and flourish in someone’s life.

For, as Catherine taught us, the words gradually give way to the Word. Meeting him anew, day after day, is to allow him to open new horizons of understanding, courage, and yes, direction for the next steps to be taken on the way of discipleship.

This is equally true for "old" people who have followed the Lord for many years. The only thing that can make them spiritually sclerotic is to cease coming to him in hopeful prayer with listening, childlike hearts. For his word is ever new; and he, the Alpha and the Omega, is at the beginning and the end of all our endeavors.

For he is not only the Sower who begins something new in each disciple; he is also the King of the harvest. He crowns our labors with his own splendor in a way similar to the way he crowned his Mother Queen of heaven and earth at her Assumption.



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