“Children, it is the last hour…” Could there be a more fitting opening line for today’s readings than this one? Today, we count down the last few hours of 2016 and while I can’t speak for everyone, I will be happy to see this year come to a close. I’ve had enough of 2016 and if the mood I’m reading on social media is any indicator, I am not alone in my assessment.
Let’s face it; some years are more difficult than others, but 2016 was harder than most. It was as though it had more than the usual 365 days to it, or rather 366 as this year was a leap year. (No, I didn’t know that off the top of my head. I had to look it up.) My husband lost his job. Two of my family members died. My brother lost his house. There were the celebrity icons who meant so much to me that died and of course an election cycle that never seemed to end. If I am being honest with you, as I sit here watching the last minutes of 2016 tick by, I can’t help wondering if I am counting down to a fresh new start or ushering in an uncertain future. The way things have gone recently, both options are a distinct possibility.
As a child, I never really connected with the New Year celebration. It always arrived in the middle of a school year, but never during a semester break. It did not signal the beginning, or preferably the end of winter but only the end of Christmas vacation. I was the same age that I was before. I was in the same grade and I had to finish the same homework that was assigned the previous month. In fact, it seemed like the same year, but with a new number assigned to it just to make my life complicated for a while.
But now that I am older, the New Year takes on a different tone to me. Oh don’t get me wrong, there is a part of me that will always feel as if the New Year belongs in June rather than January, but there is a calm serenity to the first day of the year that is unmatched in any other month, provided you are awake to experience it. I’ve never been much of a New Year’s Eve reveler, so I go to bed not long after the ball drops and as a natural “morning person” I tend to rise and shine with the chickens. It’s in the stillness of the morning, when everything is at peace that the New Year spreads out before me like a fresh blanket of snow. It’s in that moment that the year is mine to plan and create however I want. I think the year into being based on my resolution and my will to make it happen. Although I know there will be things that will impact it, set me back and cause me to re-evaluate my course, I have a plan and it is up to me to keep that plan intact no matter what challenges face it.
New Year’s morning is the moment in which I feel the biggest connection to John’s gospel in which we get a glimpse into the mind of God. God thought the world into being and He created the Word to live among us. Although we challenge His plan 24 hours a day, seven days a week 365 days a year (366 if it’s a leap year) we cannot defeat it. His will is resolute and will shine through whatever darkness we try to shadow it with. As we celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the new one, let us not count away the precious seconds with joy that it’s almost over or with trepidation and fear at what’s to come. Let us rejoice at having the fortitude to stand strong in the light even when things dark and the belief that with the morning comes another grace that enables us to find our place in His plan for another year and another journey around and with the Son.
Today’s Mass Readings: 1 JN 2:18-21; PS 96: 1-2, 11-12, 13; JN 1: 1-18