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An Opportunity to Begin Anew
After what felt like an eternity of being on the phone with someone at an IT help desk, the voice on the other end flatly said to me, “Well, I am not sure. Maybe it would be best just to unplug your computer and start over.” Skeptically, I followed the advice and, to my delight, it worked. The computer rebooted and was working again. I was ready to “start-over.” If only life were so easy!
The year 2020 is now behind us. As it ended, many of us felt we were more than ready to “unplug” and start all over again. While the new year gives us the opportunity to begin anew, we certainly should not forget our past, especially this last year.
Speaking of the year 2020, do you remember what you did to ring in the new year on New Years’ Eve in 2019? I distinctly remember being at the hospital. My dad had knee replacement surgery. He had astutely crunched the numbers and realized it was to his economic advantage to have his operation in 2019 since he and my mom had met the deductible amount for their insurance coverage. So there we were in the hospital on Dec. 31, 2019.
Overall, the surgery was successful, and my father remains extremely pleased and grateful for his new knee. However, immediately after the procedure, there were a few minor complications that required him to spend the night in the hospital. He asked me to stay overnight at their house that night to be with my mom. I happily obliged.
That evening, I celebrated Mass for my mom. She gladly read all the readings and even prepared some beautiful and heartfelt prayers of the faithful. She then made a delicious meal, followed by my devouring too many Christmas cookies that still abounded in her house. We then proceeded to spend the rest of the evening watching television.
Even though we did not stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop, almost all of the TV shows that night asserted the same theme: namely, that we were about to welcome in the year 2020 and that “20/20” means “perfect vision” or “seeing clearly.” No glasses or contacts needed! They purported and predicted that 2020 would clearly be a great, or perhaps even a perfect year for all!
Hmmm? Their crystal-ball predictions remind me of Jesus’ warning in the Gospel of Matthew 24:36, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
The year 2020 did not turn out exactly as anticipated. Before entering fully into this year 2021, let us take a moment to look back at 2020 and reflect by asking ourselves: what were some of the lessons learned? Amid the darkness, where did we see light? What blessings surprised us and should be counted by giving thanks to God?
Fast forward to the present; how did you ring in 2021? Collectively, I think it is safe to say that many of us hoped and prayed that this new year would be better than the last. However, we should never forget the past or try to erase our sufferings. Instead, we put our faith in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
In other words, as written in the Book of Revelation 21:4-5 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He, who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ ”
As we begin the new year, we need to remain steadfast with our prayer and never lose hope. And it is not a naïve hope that forgets the suffering of the past or sugarcoats the days to come. As St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look towards heaven. It is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
Therefore, it is not a matter of just pulling the plug and starting all over as we cross our fingers hoping that all will be great, or even perfect this new year. Life combines experiences of both suffering and joy; both the cross and the resurrection. And yet, every new year and, alas, every new day reminds us that God is always with us. We are beloved daughters and sons of God. Therefore, we are never abandoned and believe that we are lovingly accompanied by Christ.
In that same spirit, let us continue to accompany one another, especially the most needy and vulnerable among us. Let us also continue to pray for each other as with faith and hope we implore, “Come Holy Spirit, come” – for, with God and each other, 2021 is truly an opportunity to begin anew.