Newness and Renewal

Part of my responsibility as a FaithJustice Fellow this year is to serve as co-youth minister at a local parish. This past Sunday we had our first (virtual) youth group gathering of the new year, and we reflected on the theme of “newness”. We looked at examples from the Gospel of how people received renewal from Jesus as he touched and healed them. I feel that it is an apt theme to continue to reflect on.

As I reflect on the theme of “newness”, I think of a passage from the book of Revelation, “Behold, I make all things new”, (21:5). What does renewal mean to you? To me, it is something different than arbitrary change. I would like to suggest a distinction between “change” and “renewal”. The passage is not, Behold, I change all things, but “Behold, I make all things new.” To me, renewal is a rediscovery and deepening of the original intent and purpose of something. Certainly, renewal implies change, but this change is oriented and directed by an understanding of the original meaning and purpose of a thing. Renewal is a type of change that moves away from and sheds whatever is contrary to something’s true purpose and toward that which makes it most truly what it is. 

I believe that renewal for a human being is a rediscovery and deepening of that which makes a person truly human: his or her capacity to love and to seek the truth, to adore God, and to enter into meaningful interpersonal relationships. For a society, renewal is a rediscovery of the pursuit of the common good: working to ensure that each person has the freedom and the opportunity to live fully and to pursue real happiness. For Christians and for the Church, it is a rediscovery of the Gospel and its power to heal, to unite, and to restore dignity to all. All of this requires a renewed understanding of what a human person is and what is and is not capable of enacting true and lasting happiness. The Christian knows that renewal requires radical dependence on God and on his grace, and that it presupposes our good will.

So for me, in 2021, my intention is to seek renewal. I believe that this renewal will come about through Christ, and that it also requires my cooperation and commitment to search and to live out my humanity and my faith authentically. In all realism, it also requires an awareness and acceptance of my own weaknesses and imperfections, and the trust that God, who makes all things new, will guide me to the renewal that I desire this year.

John Holloway