The year is just beginning for us. Until the 31st of December we might be forgiven for dwelling nostalgically on the ending of the previous year. “How time flies.” “Where did the year go?” “What a year it has been.” On television, we have seen many programs made up of video clips of the year-gone-by.
Yesterday and today, we are quite naturally looking ahead, looking at the promises, prospects and challenges of the year to come.
If at year’s end we were understandably lamenting our failures and our disappointments (continuing warfare, swelling of the refugee camps and the deaths of so many innocent people, the urban violence we experience, the social barriers we continue to justify, if not accept, as the status quo), we start the new year with renewed expectations, renewed hopes and the optimism of people who sense that something new brings with it new opportunities.
Today’s two readings from the Johannine author in today’s lectionary lay down a common foundation for putting our faith into practice this new year. The first reading tells us:
Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.
If what you heard from the beginning remains in you,
then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.
And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.
…what did we hear from the beginning? The gospel of John begins with the words: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The gospel of John tells us that the supreme and eternal work of sanctification and salvation of our world is from the beginning of time. As creatures of a creator and redeemer God, we are born with a heritage already established, to continue the work of redemption that was begun in us by our baptism. If we are nostalgically reluctant to see a year-end, how much more positive should be our turning to the year ahead with the conviction that we can bring God’s redeeming life into even our most distressing conditions?
When John the Baptist appeared on the banks of the Jordan river and called the people to conversion, he knew that God was working to begin something new for his generation. He could not define it, he knew he did not fully understand it, but he knew that God was creating a future through…
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie
We know who that person is, and we have pledged to follow in his footsteps. As we begin the first days of the new year, let us remember that our God has begun a work in each one of us that can transform us a persons, as a Church community, and as a community of concerned and caring citizens of the world.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Missions for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.