At this time of year, I am generally more reflective and meditative than any other period of the year. I become more keenly aware of the journey I embrace and the challenges along the way. I can dream of the good things that are still to come.
At this time of the year, I find it easy to remember the loved ones I have lost. I can easily pray for those who died for our safety and freedom this past year. It is the season when it is easier to forgive and forget. It is the season to extend a helping hand to those in need. It is the season to be thankful for our blessings.
This is the ideal season to get a new perspective on things. Even in the midst of the demands and distractions, the bigger picture seems to unravel. It is the season to review the past year. It is the ideal time to focus on the present and its preciousness It is the time to prepare with hope for the future that is ultimately in God’s providence.
For me the year 2011 was not the best of years and it was not the worst of years. It was rather an unsettling year on many fronts. As a believer, I can say it was what God gave us. Moreover, in a real sense, it was what we made of it.
The year 2011 was a time when almost everyone was stressed out over almost everything. It seemed almost everyone was getting into the victimization thing. Ordinary things for many were becoming too much to bear.
In 2011, some were caving in to the idea and belief that things were too much to bear. Things seemed terribly out of whack. Some experienced that things seemed terribly unfair, and overly difficult.
In 2011, there were so many distractions. Troubles seemed overwhelming. It was so easy to become anxious. It was so easy to be worried about the future. At times discouragement and despair were all around us.
In 2011, our retirement savings were slowly coming back. Home prices were slowly coming back. The cash infusion was slowly beginning to work. Unemployment continued to be troublesome.
In 2011, poverty was still widespread. Drug abuse was still rampant. Homelessness continued to be a problem. The food warehouses were half-empty. The donations and supplies were inadequate. The growing needs were increasing. Hopelessness was still widespread. Even with the withdraw from Iraq; the war situation still looked bleak and barren.
Therefore, for many obvious reasons, we want to enter upon this new phase of our lives with hope. That is what it is to be a Christian and to be a believer. We face the new phase on the journey with hope.
At the beginning of the New Year, we want to settle into the realization that God is with us. We want to sink into the conviction that God has entered into our time. God has taken up a dwelling with us. His Son has come as a man. “God sent his son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:6).
At the beginning of this New Year, we come to realize that God has entered into the fears and tensions of all of our lives. He has given our mortal nature immortal value. There is a new oneness with God and us.
An integral part of our pilgrimage in this New Year is to find God. Better imagery is to allow God to find us. We make that mutual discovery in the midst of our messy lives. We make that encounter in the midst of our messy world.
The desire for God is planted in our hearts. This desire is sometimes contaminated on the journey. The desire becomes clouded. Yet, it is our deepest desire. Yet it is our deepest need as we travel to our true home. St. Augustine would say, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”
Msgr. Thomas J. Morgan is pastor of St. Mary and St. Thomas More parishes, Cherry Hill.
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