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March 2004

Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

The Israelites were in exile in Babylon. They looked back with nostalgia, remembering the glorious times when God intervened with his power and freed their ancestors from slavery in Egypt. They were tempted to think: God will not send us another Moses, he will never again work the great wonders of the past, and we will have to stay in this foreign land for ever.

In 539 BC, however, Cyrus, King of Persia, freed the chosen people whose return to the Promised Land was even more extraordinary than the exodus from Egypt.

God never repeats himself! His love can work things far greater than anything in the past, things beyond our imagination. This is why he puts these words on the lips of the prophet Isaiah:

Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing.

At the end of his book, Isaiah announces a brighter future than ever: the creation of new heavens and a new earth. God will do something so great that 'the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind'. (Isaiah 5: 17).

Referring to Isaiah's words, the apostle Paul also announces the unimaginable intervention of God in our history. God makes human beings new through the death and resurrection of Jesus; he recreates them, in his Son, for a new life. (see 2 Cor. 5: 17) Then, in the Book of Revelation, God announces the recreation of the whole universe at the end of time: 'See, I am making all things new'. (Rev. 21:5)

The words of Isaiah run through the whole of the Bible and still speak to us today:

Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing.

We are the 'something new', the 'new creation' that God has brought about. By means of his Son, who we have received through his Words and through all his gifts, God has renewed our being and our way of acting. Now it is Jesus who lives and acts in us. He is the one who renews our relationships with others: in the family, at school, at work... He is the one who, through us, regenerates life in society, culture, entertainment, health care, economics, politics... in other words, all the spheres of human life in which we are involved.

We no longer think of the past and miss the happy times we once had, or cry over our mistakes: we believe strongly in God's action, which will continue to do 'new things'.

God always offers us then chance to begin again. He frees us from the constraints and burdens of the past. Life is simplified and it becomes lighter, purer and fresher. Like Paul, we too, forgetting the past, can be free to run towards Christ, towards the fullness of life and joy. (see Phil. 3: 13-14)

Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing.

How shall we live this Word of Life? Let us try to carry out with love what God wants from us in every moment of the day whether we are studying, working, looking after the children, praying or playing... firmly setting aside all that is not God's will for us in that moment. This means that we will be open to whatever God wants to bring about in us and around us, and it will open us to welcome the particular grace he provides moment by moment.

By living like this, offering each action to God and telling him explicitly, 'It's for you,' Jesus living in us will do works that last.

Chiara Lubich

 

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The Word of Life is published by the Focolare Movement