In the Midst of the New Creation
In the Book of Revelation, St. John writes,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2)
Many people consider Revelation, an apocalyptic book, to be a frightening vision that tells of destruction and despair. These same people have come to fear the “apocalypse.” But as Catholics, if we live our faith in Jesus Christ, we have nothing to fear from the Second Coming of Christ and the fulfillment of His Kingdom. As The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, this fulfillment will be the ultimate triumph over evil and death.
The final, perfected Kingdom is something that the faithful will not experience until the Second Coming. Yet God has given us a beautiful gift in the Resurrection of Jesus and His establishment of the Church: through Jesus, God is building the new heaven and the new earth right now. We are in the midst of the New Creation, and Christ, the first fruits of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20), began this New Creation by triumphing over death in His Resurrection. We celebrate this renewal and the victory of life during this Easter season as we look to Christ, our Light.
St. Paul writes in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become the New Creation when we are baptized and become part of the Church, Christ’s bride. In this way, we become participants in the project of the transformation of the universe into its ultimate perfection. Of course, we, as imperfect human beings, cannot be creative powers in this transformation. Yet we can be workers in the vineyard. The Second Vatican Council taught,
Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from the increase of the kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society. (Gaudium et spes, 39, as quoted in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1049)
It is important to remember that God’s creation is good. The earth and we, its inhabitants, have been corrupted by sin. But, in His divine plan, God chose to save His creation through Christ and restore all things to Himself. This salvation is not something that will happen in a sudden flash of lightning when Christ returns. It is something that is happening even as we speak, and has been happening since the Resurrection and the beginnings of the Church. No matter how bleak things may look, no matter how hopeless we may feel about the state of the world, we can take courage in knowing that God will renew all things perfectly. It is not a question of if, but when—and there is no earthly power that can disrupt His divine plan. In the meantime, are we participating in the New Creation of the Church, or are we building up the corruption of the world?