Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions
Homily for January 1, 2017    Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God - A
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

Happy New Year!  This weekend we straddle the line between the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one – the bridge between history lived and a future promised.  Are you looking forward to the New Year with anticipation, or with dread?  Are you thankful for the blessings you have received? Or are you just thankful that the year is over?

You know, each time we celebrate New Year’s Day we are given an opportunity – a milestone if you will – which we can use to measure our lives to date and to prepare for our days going forward.  I prefer the word “prepare” to “plan”, since to paraphrase an old Yiddish proverb, “When Man Plans; God Laughs.”  By the way, that doesn’t mean that God wants to do something to screw up our plans.  But since we don’t know what God has in mind for us or those around us, we should not be surprised or mad when things don’t go like we think they should.  Instead, we should prepare ourselves to encounter God however and wherever He chooses.  And that preparation begins with our accepting that God wants to bless us with His Love and Mercy.

Do you believe that God will bless you in the upcoming year? As we celebrate this feast of Mary as Mother of God – the Theotokos – I wonder if on that fateful night when the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would bear the child of God Most High, if she believed that she was going to be blessed in the upcoming years?  During this last week within the Octave of Christmas, we’ve heard about some of the trials faced by the Holy Family, including Jesus’ birth in a cave, the family being hunted by Herod and becoming refugees in a foreign country, and even Simeon’s prophesy to Mary last Thursday was that her own heart would be pierced with sorrow because of Jesus.

And yet, in today’s Gospel, the shepherds spoke to Mary and Joseph about what they had seen and heard from the angel about her newborn son – the good news and great joy that Jesus would be their Messiah and Lord for the whole world – and how she kept and reflected on their words in her heart.

In her heart.  There is a difference between analyzing something with your mind and embracing something with your heart.  There is an emotional component to the heart that measures things that the mind cannot, because it is in our hearts that we find, as St. Paul says in his letter to the Galatians, the spirit of Jesus that God has sent to us; the proof that we are His adopted children and heirs to all of the graces and blessings that God wants to bestow on us.  It is with this perspective that we need to look toward the future.

And while we don’t know what the future holds for us, there are some things we can do to prepare for whatever God may ask of us.  This is where our New Year’s Resolutions should come into play.  Instead of the old stand-bys of dieting and exercise, here are some things you might consider doing in the upcoming year, based on an article from the December 1959 issue of “McCall’s” magazine and with a few of my own added for good measure:

•    Seek out a forgotten friend.
•    Mend a quarrel. Apologize if you were wrong. If not, try to understand. Listen to others.
•    Dismiss suspicion, and replace it with trust.
•    Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Welcome a stranger.
•    Share some of your treasure with those less fortunate.
•    Encourage our youth.
•    Gladden the heart of a child.
•    Laugh a little. Laugh a little more.
•    Show your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise.
•    Find the time for your family, for others, and especially for God.
•    Go to church. Get involved with your church community.
•    Oh, yes – Attend the ACTS retreat.
•    Think of others before yourself. Examine your demands on them.
•    Appreciate what you have. Express your gratitude.
•    Write a love letter.
•    Be kind; be gentle.
•    Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
•    Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it still once again.
•    Did I mention – laugh a little more?

So, as we begin this new year, ask yourselves – what are your New Year’s Resolutions for the upcoming year?  Will the year be more of the same? Or do you want this year to be different?

What are YOU willing to do to make it different?

Happy New Year!

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