During Advent I challenged us to answer this question: “This Christmas, and in view of the new year ahead, what should we pray for?” I hope that we were able to come up with some answers for ourselves personally, for our Church, and for the world. As now we celebrate New Year’s Day with the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God, we go to her once again for intercession and best example. We are told in the gospel today that as she heard the report of the shepherds, her response was to “keep all that she heard and reflect on them in her heart.” 2016 certainly gave us a lot to reflect upon and take to heart. I would like to offer Pope Francis’ January Evangelization intention as an inspiration:
That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.
A tall order indeed is the Holy Father’s prayerful intention, but who could deny its importance? This year my own often-repeated Christmas wish for others has been “May the Prince of Peace richly bless your new year, 2017.” In the midst of a world of disillusionment, distrust, and dysfunction, I cannot think of anything more important to pray for.
How have we become disillusioned except that other people or whole institutions have disappointed us and/or misled us? A prayer for peace is a prayer that people would muster the courage to trust. Anyway, why should it take so much courage to trust, except that trust has been broken? (Don’t we know it in our own Church?) Why have we seemed to fall into personal, ecclesial, and global dysfunction, except that reliable, dependable, functioning with integrity has all but disappeared?
Truly I don’t mean be the Grinch that devoured 2017. Far from it. Much to the contrary—I BELIEVE! I believe that by the will of Our Heavenly Father, Jesus is born for us The Prince of Peace, Justice, and Mercy, and that he has the power of His Holy Spirit to redeem us, to save us, and to heal us. I believe that you and I and all of humanity are created in the image and likeness of God—God’s self—and that there is the grace of that dignity ready to be brought forth in each and every one of us. I believe, like our own St. Rita, that God is the God of the impossible: what seems impossible of us is not impossible for God and God calls us each by name to be the instruments of his all-powerful incarnate LOVE FOLLOWING UPON LOVE.
Hail Mary! And Happy New Year!