“I give you a new commandment.”
All societies, civic and religious, need rules. The original Mosaic Law eventually prescribed 613 commandments. No wonder ordinary folk listened to Jesus and his New Way.
A recent journey to an appointment in Melbourne revealed that there were 9 major prohibitions on the Train, but the newish Tram listed 13! That’s inflation!
In another age, I mused, we would not have such a list on public transport. In our new age, increasingly removed from a sense of responsibility towards the common good, it appears that we might be chasing the Mosaic number. That solution failed once and is failing as we write in Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Afghanistan, to mention but a few.
But all societies need traffic lights.
Instead of the don’ts, Jesus appealed to our better nature and invited us “to love one another. To love God. To love your neighbour as yourself.”
This new proclamation did break through the old order. We read that the early Christians were known for their love of people…a characteristic not outstanding in the Roman Colosseum! Likewise, the spread of the faith in Korea was often attributed to the wonderful lives of the early women converts. Somehow, the Gospel message appealed to the women who embraced the proclamation and lived accordingly. Many paid dearly with their lives, but their example triumphed.
Jesus proclaimed: the chosen ones, even after years of listening and walking together, failed to grasp the message. Nonetheless, these same followers lost, yet loved, in their misunderstanding, failures and ignorance, eventually saw the light in his death and resurrection.
They became witnesses to his Truths.
And whilst it may not be super evident to our bleary eyes in the here and now, this truth from the Apocalypse excerpt read today is still true…
“Behold, I am making the whole of creation new.”
And that includes the recently measured “black hole”.
To cheer us up in this age of discontent, we might just embrace the final sentence of the Acts read today, and assemble our local family, street, Teams, Family Group, Cardijn and other local Church assembly, and “give an account of all that God has done with us”.
We might be gently surprised.