On this first day of the new year … a day filled with hope, anticipation, fear and joy, I offer this familiar blessing captured from today’s first reading of the day:
May the Lord bless you and keep you …
May the Lord let his face shine upon you …
And be gracious to you!
May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!
Such a very familiar blessing that reminds us today that even though the pages of the calendar have now flipped from 2017 to 2018, the love of God does not change, does not flip.
From that familiar dark night when God became man – yes, it is still Christmas and yes we are still saying Merry Christmas to all – until the dark and cold nights of this New Year, the love of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is with us.
It is the same story, told over and over.
And yet … it is breathtakingly new for so many of our brothers and sisters on this earth who have just discovered this light in their hearts.
Perhaps they attended a Midnight Mass (even if only out of obedience to grandma) and were struck by the lights or a certain song or the words of Scripture. It might have been the homily or the “sign of peace” from someone in the pew behind them.
Or perhaps they didn’t go to church, but have been on a parallel spiritual journey that has led them to knock on a door … hoping the Lord will answer (and of course, He will).
Trust me … after 600 hours of Hallmark Movies this holiday season, I am quite certain of a few things:
>>> It is never too late to fall in love (with the Lord … or with that new city girl whose car just broke down at the Christmas Tree farm);
>>> The light of love exists in all of us (sometimes it just takes time, a smiling face or lengthy commercial break for some to recognize this).
>>> And we must be patient for that love to come to fruition (a crowded Christmas Eve Mass is not always going to inspire a spiritual transformation – although it could – and, one should wait until about 5 minutes before the movie ends before planting a kiss on the new love of your life).
Yes, today is a new day.
Yesterday … it is SO 2017.
Get over it.
Get on with your life and this great journey that we are all on together.
In this New Year, resolve to …
Be kind. Let the joy in your heart come to its fullness by the way you smile, shake hands or share a hug. Even a simple encounter filled with kindness can turn the heart of a neighbor who has lost hope.
Be patient. If you’re doing all the right things, praying all the right prayers and you’re still not “feeling it” … try something new. A new habit of prayer or doing good deeds. Step out of your comfort zone and “be not afraid” … of anything!
Be joyful that you are part of this great story that has been told over and over again.
As it says in one of my favorite Psalms (and please read this slowly) …
The heavens proclaim the glory of God and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands. Day unto day takes up the story and night unto night makes known the message.
No speech, no word, no voice is heard … yet their span extends through all the earth, their words to the utmost bounds of the world. There he has placed a tent for the sun; it comes forth like a bridegroom coming from his tent, rejoices like a champion to run its course.
At the end of the sky is the rising of the sun; to the furthest end of the sky is its course. There is nothing concealed from its burning heat.
Indeed … Day unto day …
New Year’s Day.