Luke 9: 7-9
Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Today’s readings, the first from the book of Ecclesiastes and the second from the Gospel of Luke, offer a nice contrast of the predictably old and the unprecedented new. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes has seen it all. His is a wisdom tinged with world-weary gloom, and he serves up a little “dose of reality” that puts those who cling to earthly goods and pleasures in their place. Compare this with Herod’s surprise in Luke Chapter 9, upon hearing about a new man on the scene who is empowering his disciples to cast out demons and cure diseases.
“But Herod said, ‘John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he kept trying to see him [Jesus].” Herod senses that something new is afoot. And we know that in the Incarnation of the Word, there is something very much new going on in the cosmos. Never before has God manifested Himself in someone both fully human and fully divine. Jesus is indeed “something new under the sun.” But what does that look like in our life?
In the self-sacrificing love of Christ, we find healing and forgiveness for sins. The experience of being forgiven makes all things new, be it in the Sacrament of Reconciliation or the merciful pardon from someone we have wronged. When we bring our humbled selves to God or others and are forgiven, we feel new. A weight is lifted, a fear is dispelled, a grudge is abandoned, a sinful pattern is broken… and we find ourselves overcome with gratitude and nearness to God. Spend time in prayer today giving thanks for a time when you have felt forgiven. Let us pray, too, for the grace to experience again the ‘newness’ of life in Christ.
—Joseph Simmons, SJ
Lord, we pray for the grace to experience the “newness” of life in Christ. When we empty ourselves of all that puts us at a distance from you – carrying our burden by ourselves, staring at the loss in our life and looking past so many blessings, depleting our energy by putting ourselves last or engaging in the black hole of negative conversation – we simply cannot celebrate the “newness” of life in Christ.
We want today to be different. We will pause and thank you for all the good gifts in our lives; we will ask your help with any problem we face; we will give permission to ourselves to do something we enjoy, something that betters our mental or physical health, and we will not allow negative people to suck out our joy. With profound gratitude, Lord, we place our life totally into your hands, and we know that your divine spark will deepen the significance of our day.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team