Behold, I make all things new

And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Revelation 21:5

As our time of COVID19 quarantine continues, the vision of a post-COVID19 world becomes more and more a mystery. While we hear that people are anxious to get back to normal, there seems to be a consensus that what awaits is a “new normal”, one that has not yet become clear. Hope is essential in the face of this unknown.

Like that of His disciples, our Christian hope comes first and foremost from our intimate relationship with Jesus. It is the hope that God’s will be done. God’s will is, of course, for us to be united to Him, so our primary concern is for the salvation of souls. Our hope for this is in Jesus, and we do not hope in vain.

Our Lady of Fatima came to remind us of this hope, and we do well to pay attention to her message today. She warns us of our need for repentance, to turn away from our sins and be open to receiving God’s mercy. She also asks us to pray, not just for our own salvation, but for the salvation of others, those “most in need of God’s mercy”. Now is not a time to be judgmental of others, but rather to humbly recognize that we are all in need of mercy.

Trusting in God’s mercy, we can look with great hope to our post-COVID19 world. It will look different. It should look different – more like the kingdom of God if we heed the call of Our Lady. Having been saved from the power of sin and darkness, we should be able, with God’s grace, to “make all things new.”  The old systems and structures are proving useless and falling away. Nature abhors a vacuum. It will be our responsibility to rebuild society – civil, economic, political – as God would have it rebuilt, consistent with the Gospel. Love God, love your neighbor. These are our marching orders. Prayerful discernment will guide us in our actions in bringing about the kingdom of God on earth.

I cling to the imperative of St. Pope John Paul II, who credited Our Lady of Fatima for steering the bullet meant to kill him away from his vital organs and saving his life, to ”Be not afraid!” In his Urbi et Orbi message, Pope Francis reaffirmed this message, imploring us to trust in the Lord and to be assured that Jesus is in the boat with us.  Let us look to the future with hope! “Behold, I am making all things new!”

Carmina Chapp, Ph.D. is Program Director of Online Theology Programs at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

Called to Community: Beckoned by the Trinity

Before the beginning is the Trinitarian life of community of the eternal Persons of God.  The life of the Trinity is an infinite explosion of giving and receiving love.   The spiration of the Spirit is the expression of the Father and Son’s profound love for each other.  Each Person of the Trinity pours forth love toward the Others and dances in the love of the Others. Each lives and dwells in the Others and, by sharing life, the Three constitute a community characterized by unity in diversity.  The interrelationship of the Persons of the Trinity is so complete that the Three are one God, that is, three loves in the same love.

The Trinity lives from, with, through, and for each Other.   From all eternity, this community of shared life has existed in a dynamic, mutually interdependent, and reciprocal relationship of self-giving love.  Historically, the eternal Three expressed the dynamus of their love in the outward movements of Creation, Incarnation/Redemption, Pentecost, and continue to do so in the ongoing life of the earth community and, in a special way, the Christian community.

The Triune God, a Mystery of intense inclusion, invites human beings to share in its communion of life and love, and, through this experience, to enter into community with others.  Just as the community of the Trinity exists in relationships of self-donation and self-differentiation, so, too, the Christian community entails each member’s giving of self in love to others and the flourishing of  members’ personal development.  True community embraces the individuation of its members and inspires them to contribute to the common good.    

Through His teaching and example, Jesus stressed the importance and value of community.  He taught His small band of followers to be together in love. Jesus responded lovingly to others’ needs and encouraged His disciples to do likewise. Today, Jesus’ call is to continue His self-donating way of being.  Love of Christ and the commitment to contribute to the growth of God’s Kingdom of love on earth through gospel living is what binds together contemporary Christians.

The following are some of this author’s reflections concerning the  meaning and value of Christian Community:

  • Community is a grace that involves collaboration with God and others.  
  • Community is about experiencing a sense of belonging.  In Christ we are, indeed, members of each other.
  • Relationships that nurture, encourage, and challenge us shape and enrich our shared life in community.  
  • Community involves carrying each other’s burdens, i.e., being there for each other in good times and hard times.  
  • Community means praying for and with each other.
  • Community and forgiveness go hand-in-hand.  This entails seeking reconciliation when we inflict pain on another and offering forgiveness to those who have caused us to suffer.  
  • Community is a discipleship of friends who together steward the talents and resources God has bestowed on them.  
  • In community, with courage and constantly renewed vigor, we quest together to serve the needs of God’s people by attuning ourselves to the signs of our times.
  • Hospitality is essential to Community. The spirit of welcoming includes honoring each other and creating ample space for differences among us.  

The Trinity constantly beckons Christians to community, which entails an ongoing commitment to walk the long journey in love together.  As Mercy foundress, Venerable Catherine McAuley, poignantly reminds us:  “Our mutual respect and charity is to be cordial; now ‘cordial’ signifies something that revives, invigorates, and warms; such should be the effect of our love for each other.”  Just as the cordiality of the Persons of the Trinity for each Other moves outward, so, too, Christian cordiality expresses itself in the mission of mercy to our world, which roots itself in the desire to respond lovingly and wholeheartedly to the needs of our time.  

In his text, Why We Live in Community, Eberhard Arnold, the founder of the Bruderhof, stresses that the “witness to voluntary community of goods and work, to a life of peace and love, will have meaning only when we throw our entire life and livelihood into it.” 1 Additionally, in an essay on community, Thomas Merton notes that community is God’s work.  He insists: “It isn’t just a question of whether you are building community with people that you naturally like; it is also a question of building community with people that God has brought together.”2

The story of  Christian community is ever unfolding.  Beckoned by the Trinity, as we continue into the future in the 21st century and beyond, let us encourage and inspire one another to dream dreams, share hopes, and seek and find creative ways to live mercifully by serving persons in need in our broken world.


1 Eberhard Arnold, Why We Live in Community (Farmington, Pa.: Plough Phing Co., 1996), p. 28.

2 Thomas Merton, “Building Community on God’s Love” reprinted in Why We Live in Community, p. 51.  


Dr. Marilyn Sunderman, RSM is Professor of Theology and Chair of the on-campus Theology Program at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.