This passage had deep meaning for the Jews when Isaiah proclaimed it, but it has even deeper meaning for we Christians. For Isaiah, this was a prophecy about salvation, but for Christians, that prophecy has been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.
The Cross is the reason and the explanation for the salvation of humankind. Jesus’ death on the cross ended the “former things” and the “things of old.” Now we are called upon to consider the “new things,” the new way of life that Jesus Christ initiated with his life, death, and resurrection. What are those new things and ways?
Among the foremost is that we are to remember that we have been saved, that the gates of Paradise have been reopened to us through the forgiveness that Christ made real and present through his suffering and death on the cross. We are to remember that Christ died for all humankind, that his forgiveness is universal and complete. We are to remember that he called us to be one with one another, to forgive and to love one another as he forgave and loved us. We are to see ourselves no longer divided by “the former things, the things of old,” rather, we are to now live as one body in Christ. We, the Church, are to be the Body of Christ on earth. We are to remember that Christ brought an end to the old things and brought forth the new, not just with our minds, but with our actions. We are to put away our old ways, the old habits of sin that we have developed, and to put on the new ways of Jesus Christ. What does this mean?
We are no longer to divide ourselves by the old social constructs that divide us like, race, gender, religion/denomination, culture and language. This is particularly true for those who have accepted Jesus as their personal savior and have freely chosen to walk in his “new” ways. Those who have been baptised into the Body of Christ, are to remove all those old ways of division from their minds and hearts and they are to practice living the unconditional love of Jesus for all. At the center of this love that Jesus shows to us is the virtue of forgiveness. We are no longer to see distinctions. No longer are we to be divided by the “former things, the things of old.” We are to see ourselves in this new way, as one Church, one Body of Christ. We are to live out of that divine awareness that Jesus modeled and lived for us. He is our example. He is the one we are to imitate. And we are to be examples of Christ in the world today. We are to let go of the darkness of ignorance that clings to the old ideas of the past that divided us, and we are to live now in accord with the light of Jesus. This, of course, is not easy and cannot be done without our willing acceptance of God’s will for us. We received the power of his supporting and strengthening grace in our baptism. It is that grace that enables us to do this. In baptism we died to the “things of old” with Christ and we were raised up with him into this new life. It is our knowledge of God, learned in and through the life of Jesus, along with our humble and willing attitude toward God, that makes all the difference. In accepting the new ways of Jesus with our whole hearts, our whole minds, our whole strength, we open ourselves to the continuing graces of God that are the bond that will unite us as one in the Body of Christ.
Lord, give us both insight and courage to see the divine wisdom of turning from our former ways, “the things of old” that bind us to earthly things and ways. Help us, rather, to turn to you, for it is in you alone that we find the newness of salvation and the promise of eternal life. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen!
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