Posts tagged: new year
Hello, you Christians! Are you conscious of the fact that our Jewish brothers and sisters are celebrating the great feast of Rosh Hashanah? This is the High Holy Day feast that begins the celebration of the Jewish new year, and I have to tell you honestly that I think that the Jewish mode of expressing this day is much better than a common one we hear in our country on New Year’s Day. The dominant expression here is simply “Happy New Year!” There is nothing wrong with that. We certainly want everyone we know to be as happy as possible, and receive and utilize the blessings that come from God.
But the Jews approach new year with a true desire to eliminate past failures in human relationships and to achieve forgiveness. They are ready to wipe the slate clean and start anew. I think that we are all aware that we have little cancers in our personal lives, and one of the most widespread is the failure to forgive- the desire to hold on to grudges. The Jews recognize this, and strive to eliminate it. Shana Tova! [A good year (to you)]
God Bless them for it!
Let’s gather together now in these difficult times, saying “please forgive me for any wrongs I may have done to you, and truly, happy new year!”
Nearly all of us are struggling to stay focused on those two or three serious resolutions we made as we began the New Year. At the same, we must be conscious of the fact that the big problems that we were facing in 2011, whether as individuals or in our society, are still very much with us. Big problems don’t go away with the change on the calendar.
One of the big problems that has cursed the human family since the dawn of time is the question of hatred. Hatred has many causes but one of the most important is fear. We are afraid of people that are different and are insecure if someone around us is speaking a different language. Centuries of prejudice has caused tremendous pain and suffering that flowed simply from a different color of skin pigment.
I would like to think that most of the readers of this blog declare themselves free of hatred. Hatred is ugly, hatred is destructive, hatred produces tremendous unhappiness. We all know that but what about the underpinnings of hatred?
If we proudly declare ourselves free of hatred, can we say the same thing about bias? Are we ever guilty of stereotyping, insensitive remarks, belittling jokes? If we are guilty of bias, do they not lead into individual acts of prejudice? We have wonderful children and grandchildren. Does our hardly noticed bias ever flow into ridicule, name calling that is picked up by their young minds and imbedded in their thought processes?
Those interested in a more just society have long been reminded that you have to learn how to hate. Those who want that just society, those who want a unified community based on acceptance and non-discrimination, need to produce a counter process to teach our children love and acceptance that extends to EVERYONE.
It is early in the New Year. If you haven’t thought much of that over the last few days, try and tack it on to that wonderful list of resolutions you made last week.
The beginning of a New Year can be a very measurable gift for self-help, self-improvement. People instinctively realize this and that is why so many of us make resolutions to live differently, to do things differently, to improve ourselves and improve the relationships that we have around us.
The other day, I referred to the fact that most New Year’s resolutions are sincere failures. That does not have to be the case because self-improvement really ought to be a concern and the goal of each and every one of us. How different life would be, how different our own individual lives would be, if each of us throughout our lives, throughout our years, steadily worked to improve ourselves to make us better persons, better human beings, better followers of Jesus.
Self-improvement is obvious and natural when we are young. We go from kindergarten to high school and from college to our professional work lives. As we make this journey, goals are set for us to improve ourselves and to accomplish new goals.
Then comes the crest!
Life levels off and we have our faith, we have our family, we have our work and we plod on into it day by day without giving much thought to improvement. I don’t mean to preach to the readers. Rather let me preach to myself for a moment. I have some very real weaknesses and these weaknesses manifested themselves in 2011. What am I going to do about them? What can I do to get rid of that bad trait, that habit of weakness, that lackadaisical approach to self-improvement?
I know the answer. I have to identify the issue. It doesn’t always have to be negative. It is really wonderful to pursue positive goals in our lives as well. However, let’s keep it on the negative for just a moment. What is the issue? Why do I do that? What can I factor into my life to make me avoid doing that in the future?
I do not do nearly as much serious reading as I should. Two of my weaknesses contribute to this. The first one is that I often find myself to be lazy. Secondly, I am addicted to the news. If I cut my news addiction in half, it would open up hundreds of hours for serious reading in the area of spirituality, theology, politics and economics. I am determined to do that and I will give you a report next year.
Now about my laziness….
As January 1st approaches, all of us will hear a great deal about New Year’s resolutions. Regretfully, most New Year’s resolutions are sincere failures (is that an oxymoron?). People know that they ought to look ahead and endeavor to live better lives, solve problems more easily, avoid unnecessary problems, etc., etc.
I think, however, that we would do a better job at making New Year’s resolutions if we would take great care in looking back over the year just past. Let’s look back before we look ahead.
Was it a successful year? Were we blessed with good health? Were we able to avoid financial loss? Are these things for which we ought to be very thankful and to ask God to allow them to continue in the future? The average person doesn’t have complete control over his or her finances and we don’t have complete control over our health. However, we can control how we share life with the people around us, in our families, in our neighborhoods and on the job. Did I hurt Uncle Bill’s feelings last year? Did I do enough for my neighbor, Mrs. McClendan, when she was sick? We should examine our conscience for the year, not in terms of sin but in terms of positive, good acts. We should ask ourselves: Are we generous people? Do we make decisions on the basis of what is good for the people with whom we are sharing life? Are we cursed by the vice of selfishness? Whether we are or not is up to us.
Let’s plan for the New Year but let’s don’t do it until we really take a good look back. Onward through the fog.
November 27th, First Sunday of Advent
If you wished your friends a happy New Year today, you would be a little bit early as far as the general public is concerned. New Year’s will fall a little more than a month from now on January 1, 2012. But today is the first day of a new year – the Church year, the ecclesiastical year, the liturgical year – they are all the same thing.
The message today is from St. Mark and St. Mark, as he usually is, is brief and direct. He quotes Jesus as telling us, “Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come!”
From then on, the message is simple. It is awesomely important. Our Lord is simply telling us that we must lead our lives in such a way that we are always prepared for a sudden ending of our lives. The faith that we committed to last week on the Feast of Christ the King is a faith that guides us day by day, a faith that gives us a sense of direction, proportionality and balance. God loves us, he has given us life, he invites us to share in his life for all eternity. Our response is to be loving, faithful, committed to him, to walking in the footsteps of Jesus.
Again Jesus says, “What I say to you I say to all. Be on guard!”
Happy New Year! May 2011 bring you many continued blessings, and may we all recognize those blessings. Here are a few more thoughts as we look to the new year:
Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
ALWAYS CHOOSE LIFE.