The verse from today’s reading keeps coming up in my reflection, “We await a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells.” This new reality, that encompasses and unites all of God’s creation, is slowly, very slowly, coming into being. This birthing process will go on until the Lord returns and completes his vision for a new earth and a new heaven.
This process will always entail a “burning away” of all the dark realities that want to prevent this new reality from finding expression. The history of humankind necessarily involves conflict and confrontation as we move forward and develop, change and grow. Our brains, the way we think and behave, are developing and will continue to do so.
Change means a threat to many who don’t want this new world to emerge. Many of us prefer the safety of living in clearly defined groups and tribes that somehow offer security, that fortifies a world of “us vs. them,” “You’re in or out,” “it’s either this or that.” This way of thinking is wired into our brains and goes back millions of years when we lived in tribes that necessarily compelled us to be defensive of land and food.
As we evolve, so must our brains, that keep pushing back horizons of vision. But the remnants of the primitive brain remain and so we retreat into patterns of behavior that can only bring division and violence. Tribal thinking can’t work in a world growing increasingly global and connected.
The Spirit of Jesus given to us at baptism is giving us the inner gifts needed to allow the way we think to undergo a change, a “metanoia” giving birth to this new heaven and new earth. Grace always builds on nature as it is, uplifting the spirit, widening the vision and, in my opinion, actually rewires our brains to evolve, thinking in ways that see life as both/and... rather than either/or.