We have ushered in another year. Do we realize that we are into the second half of this decade? I marvel at how time accelerates as I get older. And yet, when I look at myself in the mirror I don’t see myself as old. Somehow I think I am as young as I used to be. Age creeps up on us and yet we are lulled into thinking that we still have lots of time.
The one thing that seems to prevent us from living right and living well is the fear that haunts us all the time. Living at this moment in human history, we are likely to be even more fearful. The future seems uncertain. Recent terrorist attacks make life appear random and precarious. All the fear-mongering done by candidates and political pundits certainly do not help to allay our fears. Some people feel we are still in an economic recession. In the midst of such negativity, we succumb to our fears and face the future with hesitation, if not with trepidation.
In his own insightful fashion, Thomas Merton once said that we cannot have peace by trusting humans who cannot be trusted. We need to trust God. Relying less on our resources and more on divine promises we can face life with optimism and joy. Great saints knew this. That is why St Paul cries out in his Letter to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
In all other religions God is distant and unattainable. Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, a Deist, maintained that God creates the world but leaves it to its own devices. In Greek and Roman mythology gods and goddesses are not interested in humans except to mess up their happiness. Even in Hinduism men and women are mere pawns in the games played by the gods. In Islam God is the Supreme One, the Sovereign, and we should submit to His will with no questions. Buddhism does not even speak of a personal God who is interested in us.
Only in Christianity God not only creates the world and everything in it. He also takes a personal interest in its destiny. God makes man and woman, and He desires a personal relationship with them. Our provident God continues His creative work by assisting humans in their daily endeavors. In Christ God proves His unique love for humanity as a whole and for every human being. In Christ He makes His home with us. Jesus, the Son of God, becomes one of us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. Through Christ, He invites every man and woman to a personal relationship with Him.
What is even more heartening is the fact that this God is not only with us, but also for us. Jesus Christ is our advocate before the Father. Through His death and resurrection, He reconciles the world with God and opens the doors of heaven for us. He Who calmed the sea and fed the five thousand is our Brother. He has our well-being at heart. He wants nothing less than our salvation. He desires nothing other than our eternal happiness with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
One of my favorite composers of Church music is Rory Cooney who has written some of the best lyrics. Here are a few lines from his hymn, “I am for you”:
There is a mountain, there is a sea, there is a wind within all breathing.
There is an arm to break ev’ry chain, there is a fire in all things living.
There is a voice that speaks from the flame:
“I am for you, I am for you, I am for you is my name.
There was a man who walked in the storm, caught between the waves and the lightning.
Sharing his bread with those cast aside, healing by touch the lost and the dying,
Sending us forth, he says to his friends:
“I am for you, I am for you, I am for you to the end.
I grew up in a very religious home and both my parents were rather strict. We had to go to daily Mass before we went to school. If I missed daily Mass, I would get no breakfast. I never missed breakfast. All through my youth, and even in my seminary days, my relationship with God was one of fear. I wanted to win God’s approval. I thought that God would love me more if I was perfect. However, as I got closer to my priestly ordination I discovered that I had to have a personal relationship with this God. He loves me no matter what. I know I don’t have to win over this God. He is already on my side. I don’t have to please Him. He delights in me. Because He loves me, I want to love Him and try to become holy. That fundamental discovery changed my life.
So, here is my challenge to each and every one reading this column. Let this be our New Year resolution. Believe me, it is far more attainable than going on a diet or finishing that book. God is far more eager to have an intimate relationship with us than we are. Let us make God our first priority. Let us spend time in personal conversation with Him. Let Him guide us. We will see how peaceful and serene we will become.
May the God Who loved us first help us in our New Year resolve! Happy New Year! May the Christ Child continue to bless you and all those you love!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...