There is newness in all three readings today. At the end of their first missionary journey, in the first reading, Paul and Barnabas enthusiastically report on the admission of the Gentiles (pagans) into the church. In the Easter season, the growth and spread of the church is much to the fore. Each Easter we welcome new converts to the faith. These new disciples are so much a part of Easter, expressing the perennial newness of the church. Its message springs eternal!
And what of Jesus’ new commandment in our gospel today? Is our love for one another, even within the church, a true sign to an unbelieving world? We might have to say that it could be if we started to live it. Instead we settle for negativism and pettiness. We have no shortage of ethnic slurs, racial dislike, and ill feelings towards minorities. We believe that we are free of sexism, but that can be sorely contested. The newness of that commandment lies partially in the motivation for observing it. Christ’s love is to be mirrored in our own. But is it? God continues to make things new. A new heaven and a new earth, vividly portrayed in our second reading. Think of a cleaner environment. A world free of destructive weapons. We can help construct a better world even in the here and now. But do we take personal and social newness seriously? Or is it mostly business as usual?