Thus says the LORD:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create.
So begins today’s first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah. New heavens and a new earth? What can this mean? Does it mean that these new heavens and a new earth have already been created, or is Isaiah prophesying about the second coming, when everything with be transformed and made new and perfect? I think that the answer is that both interpretations are correct.
Isaiah saw this newness of creation as the ushering in of a time of great peace, prosperity and unity with God. The people of Israel had wandered far from God in Isaiah’s time and he recognized that this disunity was a corruption of the true order of things originally intended by God. God in his mercy reached out to his people, bringing them back into union with him.
For those of us who are followers of Jesus, the prophesy has a deeper meaning. Not only does God show mercy to his people, but he gives himself in totality to each one of us through the pascal sacrifice. In doing so he renews the relationship promised to the people of Israel, but also promises each of us that there will be a radical transformation of the entire earth, which will be made new so that we can have complete union with him and see him as he truly is. On this new earth, those who have given their lives to Christ will share with him the joy and fulfillment living in the new, everlasting Garden of Eden.