Daily Mass Reflections - 12/31
“Only a few more hours more - and this year too will come to an end and pass into history. I too finish the year and await the new dawn with joy....I go down on my knees before my God and, recalling his kindnesses to me this year, I humble myself in the dust and thank him with all my heart.” ~ St. John XXIII
In today’s Gospel, the finale of sorts - at least for those who abide by the Gregorian Calendar - we revisit the opening of Saint John’s Gospel (John 1:1-18), the same words proclaimed on Christmas Day. This passage, one which brings to fruition all that was foreshadowed in the Old Testament regarding this man who would become known as Jesus, also introduces us to John the Baptist.
We are told that John too was a man sent by God. Although not the light, he was called to testify to the light, giving others the greatest gift of them all, the gift of faith. The passage goes on to say that “the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” How confused John’s followers must have been when he tells them “This was he of whom I said ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” Perplexing words for sure, perhaps on par with the Post-Pentecostal belief that Jesus is in fact among us but will also come again.
On the cusp of a new year, this Gospel invites us all to look back on the past year, for that matter all the past years, asking ourselves if we have been that light for others, testifying to the truth so that they may obtain this great gift of faith. Just as Jesus would follow John the Baptist, baptizing not with water but instead with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we as believers know that Jesus is sure to come again, and in doing so he will be following us in a manner of speaking. It is our role to pave the way, bringing him into the lives of those we encounter through our actions, choices, thoughts and words. New Years Eve is of course synonymous with resolutions, and I invite you this year to consider a different kind of resolution, one that goes beyond losing the 15 pounds that you’ll no doubt gain back anyway, or signing up for the gym membership that will have worn out its welcome and gone dormant by early March. What if our resolution was to be the light, to be the one who testifies to the truth? At all costs. With no regard for the consequences, this despite the fact that it might lead to radical changes in our lives, radical changes to even the people we suddenly find in (and out of) our lives?
Not easy. But by sending his only begotten Son into the world, God has shined his light on all of us, we “have seen his glory” (John 1:14), the very light of his mercy. No longer must we wallow in hopelessness. God is no longer a distant, far away, abstract idea. He dwells within us. He desires an intimate communion with each of us. He reveals himself to us during the day-to-day grind.
Jesus came to dwell among us so that we could see his glory in every single aspect of our lives. Let that thought galvanize you as you prepare to embark on the new year ahead, which I hope and pray is filled with much joy and many blessings for each and every one of you.
“We thank you Lord that you have been with us through the days of this past year. Perhaps many a day we have not felt you near,
Perhaps at times we have even felt that you have forsaken us and forgotten us but we thank you that it has never been so. We thank you that you are constantly with your people, and that you have enabled us to persevere in grace. You have comforted our hearts, you have heard our prayers, you have come so often to our aid. We pray that you will go with us into this new year. None of us who knows what the new year will hold, but we thank you that every moment of that year is in your hands, and you will be with your people.” ~ Amen