Fifth Sunday of Easter
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 14: 21-27
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145:8-13
Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-5
Gospel: According to St. John 13:31-35
“Behold, I make all things new.” These words from the Book of Revelation are fitting for this time of year when the winter is over and the world is once again becoming green, but they are also fitting for the liturgical season of Easter. The word ‘spring’ can mean a number of things, all of which can be related to the event that changed the world forever.
Spring can refer to the season itself, and is therefore directly related to Lent, which is the original Anglo-Saxon term for the season of spring. The term can also refer to those pieces of coiled metal that are used in everything from heavy-duty vehicles to delicate hand-crafted watches. Our belief as Christians is that on the first Easter Sunday Jesus was resurrected like the unleashing of a tightly coiled spring. Members of an Italian physics lab reported that the image on the Shroud of Turin, the alleged burial cloth of Christ, could only have been made by a focus of energy the equivalent of several billion watts for under forty billionth of a second. Less energy, no image; more time, nothing left of the shroud but ashes. Quite a recoil to that spring.
But two less popular uses of ‘spring’ might be even more appropriate. A good lawyer might be able to spring someone from jail earlier than anticipated, and if that prisoner is really lucky a friend might spring for the lawyer’s bill. The newly-freed man gets to make a fresh start – for him all things are made new.
Jesus is both the lawyer who knows how to get us out of prison as well as the friend who pays the bill.
Those who follow Jesus can rejoice in the Easter miracle, knowing that Jesus has saved us from the eternal prison of our sinfulness and He has paid the price for our entrance into eternal life. This is the only true comfort to anyone who has ever faced the death of a loved one. Only if Jesus died for our sins and rose on the third day does any of this even begin to make sense.
Without the resurrection there is only death. A world without the promise of the Good News is a world ripe for nihilism. A world filled with sin and pain and death cannot be overcome with platitudes. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and “one day at a time” fall short in the face of the abyss. Only Christ offers a way out, because only Christ offered Himself – totally and completely.
Perhaps that is why the film The Passion of the Christ places the words “Behold, I make all things new” in the mouth of Jesus while He is carrying the cross to Calvary. He has fallen under the weight of the cross and His mother runs to Him. It is here, at the lowest point in His life and face to face with the abyss, when Mary longs to comfort her Son but cannot, that He says, “See, Mother, I make all things new.” Through the Paschal Mystery Jesus “will wipe every tear…and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”
Ave crux, spes unica. Hail the cross, our only hope.