28 July 2016
In the mind of God, continuity is a big idea. It’s like if you look at a rainbow; the colors don’t have a definite end or beginning. Red becomes orange as it mingles with yellow. Yellow becomes green as it mixes with blue. And so on. Even though there are different colors, there’s no definitive break between them; there’s continuity between them.
When Jesus talks about “the new and the old,” he’s talking specifically about the Law of Moses in comparison to the new direction Jesus is taking humanity. And what he’s getting at is that there’s continuity in our faith from generation to generation. There’s continuity, not rupture. Of course, continuity is very fragile.
It only takes a generation or two for “the old” to become “the forgotten:” and for “the forgotten” to become “the lost.” And that’s a very real concern for the Church today. Unfortunately, we live in a world that says anything old is bad, and anything new is good. It’s totally contrary to the teachings of Christ, and yet, this worldview has taken hold in many parts of the Church.
How do we know that? Just mention the word “tradition” to some people, and watch them cringe. Just mention “Vatican II” to other people, and watch them cringe. Either way, it’s a problem because that creates a break in the practice of our faith, where there should be continuity.
Now, Jeremiah gives us the image of the potter and the clay. We are the clay; God is the potter. And while God forms and reforms the clay into something new, the clay itself is always the same. The clay is always the same. God makes us and causes us to grow and change, and yet, we’re still the same people. In God’s mind, the old blossoms into the new, and the new is built upon the old; the idea of continuity is big in God’s way of thinking.
As the Church struggles to bring the gospel into the world, as she works with her own generational gaps, and the fallout of an increasingly de-Christianized society, the idea of continuity will be important in questions of faith, morals, and worship. We must embrace what is old and good, and also what is new and good.
The question isn’t whether something is old or new; the question is: Is it good . . . because goodness lasts forever. Like the fish in the net, the bad will be thrown away—whether they’re old or new. But the good will be kept—doesn’t matter if they’re old or new. All that matters is that it’s good. Is it good for us? Is it good for the world? Is it the Will of God?