NEW YEAR’S DAY 2013 Mary, Mother of God – Galatians 4:4-7 – Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
NEW YEAR’S DAY 2013
MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
The New Year has arrived. Today, we open a fresh volume in the chronicle of our living. In Manhattan last night, as the clock arrived at this budding time, revelers poured confetti from a height on the crowds milling in Times Square. Rejoicing, the crowd opened the early hours of 2013.
At first imagining, we think of an entire year lying ahead of us. What wonders, we think, might occur in the weeks and months ahead! However, for a Christmas present, I received a desk calendar; it is note sized, and I could jot two or three brief to-be-done items for the Wednesday or the Friday of that week. One item on the wrapper caught my attention. The calendar had only 365 sheets of paper. When finished with those, I would toss the last bit of paper into the trash, and that would finish the year. Time is precious, yet fleeting.
I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau’s book, Walden, a journal that he purportedly wrote in 1846 and 1847. Thoreau offers his thinking while he moved onto land not far from Concord, Massachusetts, one hundred-fifty years ago. Among the more important statements, he tells why he moved to such a spot. He writes this.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life; living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life…. (Walden, ch.2).
Because you and I wish to employ this green year, we often make fresh resolves whereby we start out. Like Thoreau, we move from a wonted way that has grown stale, and we demand something different from ourselves when we open this calendar.
The year 2013 brings hope and newness. We may be committing ourselves to a fresh start, to a better way. We choose to get rid of the old and put on the new. New Year resolutions seem like the molting process that the crustacean goes through. As adults, lobsters molt at least yearly.
In order to grow, lobsters have to rid themselves of their old, hard, protective shell and grow a new, larger shell. This process of shedding an old shell is called molting. Lobsters go through this ugly, messy process. Under the pressure, the old, hard, protective shell cracks. Then the lobster lies on its side, flexes its muscles, and pulls itself from the cracked shell. For a short time—between the leaving of the old shell and the hardening of a new one—the lobster is naked, feeling vulnerable to predators. But in a few days, the lobster has a new, hard, protective shell, and it has room to grow for another year.
Our growth requires that we resolve to improve our living. New Year’s is a good time to follow the example of the adult lobster—to molt at least once a year, departing from our old, protective selves and allowing ourselves space in which to grow.
As we open 2013, we might resolve to grow closer to Christ. Our piece from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians recalls our nobility. Because of Christ’s redemption, you and I are sons and daughters of God who has adopted us.
In contrast to God’s own Son, all other human beings enter God’s family only by adoption. St. Augustine expresses this point.
“We are sons [and daughters] of God through his generosity and the condescension of his mercy, whereas [Jesus] is Son by nature, sharing the same divinity with the Father” (Galatians 30).
God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. Here a faithful person intensely experiences confirmation of God’s gracious embrace. When the Spirit is sent into our hearts, it cries out, “Abba, Father.” This is the language of ecstasy, for we “cry out!” The Spirit is a powerful presence in our hearts, enabling or impelling us to cry out to the Father of Jesus Christ as to our own Father.
At baptism we receive the person of a Christian. We become new and different people, and with that new persona, we receive rights and privileges. We are no longer slaves of passion or of dictating whims, but now sons and daughters of God, and then also heirs, rightfully expecting to receive an eternal inheritance after the manner of Jesus Christ. Thus we are enabled to speak to God; at Mass, every prayer is addressed to God the Father. When we pray as Jesus taught us, we address God as Father.
Therefore, it behooves us to act our part, to realize our wondrous vocation, to realize the dignity to which the Lord calls us. At this first day of 2013, we might be more aware of coming closer in prayer to our heavenly Father. A regular time for prayer, a helping of a needy person, a generous going out from ourselves, some regular time for one of the psalms or some spiritual reading—any or all of these would beckon us at this time of New Year’s resolutions. Amen.