30 Jul 2015
Christianity is old. And our tradition of wisdom goes back to ancient times. And yet, we’re always being renewed by the perpetual newness of God. That “cloud” of God’s continuing presence among us keeps us supple and fresh. The Church is very old in wisdom and understanding, and yet very young at heart. She’s always been able to blend the old and the new, like that “head of the household” Jesus speaks of who values both the past and the present.
And that’s part of the “loveliness” of God’s dwelling place, the Church. She’s like an old, very old person whose face is deeply lined by the wrinkles of time and experience; and yet, whose eyes are still brilliant and sparkling like the day she were born. Of course, there are many people in the world today who prefer to just put this old lady in a home somewhere and forget out her; she’s so “out of touch with reality,” so “old-fashioned” and “backwards.”
And that’s too bad. Throwing out what’s “old” just so we can hold onto our own ways of doing things makes us pretty isolated. It cuts us off from the Kingdom of heaven. It cuts us off from the beauty of the Church, God’s dwelling place. It’s a rather tragic thing to discard what’s “old” just because it seems old and irrelevant.
Of course, nor is it good to hold onto the “old” ways if we turn a blind eye to “new” ways. Instead, blending the old and the new keeps us grounded and, yet, growing. Maybe the Kingdom could be described as: a living thing that has deep roots and yet reaches always outward. The Kingdom is like that old, very old woman whose face is wrinkled in her roots, and yet whose eyes are sparkling and bright as they reach outward to what is new.
And those who won’t experience the joy of the Kingdom are those who want to put that old lady away somewhere, someplace where she won’t get in their way. And we pray for them. We pray that they be freed someday from their self-imposed isolation and come back to the dwelling place of God.
In the meantime, though, we say to the Lord: “How loving is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!” How beautiful it is to treasure the old and the true, and to value what’s new and insightful. How wonderful it is to have wrinkled skin and sparkling eyes, we the Church, we the dwelling place of God—God who is ever-Ancient and ever-New.