Recognize the unexpected



Our very contemporary difficulty, our painful difficulty, is to welcome the new. Everything would make us think the opposite. We are so easily sold the new model. The new product. The new formula. The new policy. But to sell and to buy, to consume, is not to welcome. That is to say, to open up to what is coming, to receive and give hospitality to what is discovered and that we do not know. The contemporary world’s mercantile obsession with novelty is nothing but the fear of opening up to the unexpected, without which nothing new appears under the sun.

However, the new, as I would like to hear it today with you a few weeks before Christmas, to be received, requires everyone to wonder about what is happening to them, about the event, the upheaval in us who alone allows you to recognize the unexpected, the unexpected. If act Christian there is, it is that one. What is new only happens through this intimate recognition which makes me discover (and discover myself) what I did not want or could not see, not meet. The new, in its appearance, provokes a laying bare of myself. We have all had such an experience at one time or another. We have fully, sometimes madly, adhered to it, or we have preferred to turn away from it. This loosening force that the emergence of the new comes to provoke in us is the force to love (agape or caritas, in Christian language). What is new requires our power to love in order to be recognized. And let’s admit that such a solicitation in life, if we often hope so, we also dread it a lot, we fabricate a thousand and one tricks to deny it, to deflect it. We often prefer to rehearse rather than welcome. The human subject, faced with the appearance of the new, is a small factory of neuroses. When we are disturbed, dislodged, when we are called from elsewhere, from another, we repeat to avoid the unexpected. The new products of the world are often only skillful repeats able to satisfy our incurable need for the same. Make “All things new”, as the Apocalypse says (21, 5), it is not to repeat in order not to have to receive, to welcome, it is to accept to recapitulate (anakephalaiôsasthai, in Greek in Paul: to recapitulate everything in Christ, anakephalaiôsasthai your panta in tô Christo, Ep 1, 10). Literally, the Greek word means “to give back a head” (kephalè), unite under one leader, repeat or bring together to form a new direction, a new meaning to all that we are, what we know and experience.

To be gripped by the revelation of the new, to see “All things new”, our welcome must fraternally bring together all that we are, what we have experienced and are living, each other. The surprise and the unforgettable of what comes does not destroy what was, but the new itself is this force of reception and hospitality of all that, for generations, has become our embarrassment, our subject of perplexity. No doubt that if there is a revelation, it relates to what we ourselves did not want to recognize. Only then can the new be discovered. Our insatiable thirst for the new would too often want to delusively rid us of the weight of our responsibility. The letter to the Ephesians specifies it admirably, this movement of recapitulation, the work of the new is a power of peace, of reconciliation. “Kill hate”, explains in a lightning way the text of Paul (2, 16). To welcome “All things new”is to make peace, among ourselves, with ourselves. And this is what still seems so painful and mysterious to us today.

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