Here it is February already! Does it still feel like a new year to you? I always get excited about the new year: the possibilities for change, the chance to put some things behind me and the promise of a whole new beginning. But every January, even with the best of resolutions, within a few short weeks I get sick with a cold or the flu and I lose my hope.
Stumbling around, feeling my age and my aches, I think: sure it’s a whole new year but it’s still the same old me. Not really the hope I had been looking for.
Do you ever feel that way?
But hope is indeed the gift of every new year whether we see it or not. Hope is the belief that things can be better than they have been. And every year, even every day, brings with it the possibility of change. However, true change comes with a price and is anything but easy. So often, we look around wanting… hoping… wishing that the people and things around us would change. But we are looking at the wrong people. Real change always begins with us. That is a hard truth perhaps but also the best kind of truth because it leaves us with the ability to make it happen.
Jesus talks about this in the Gospel of Luke (6:37-38).
“Judge not, and you will not be judged;
condemn not, and you will not be condemned;
forgive, and you will be forgiven;
give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down,
shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.
For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
This is actually an amazing statement! You are the one who decides what you will receive from God. If you want love, then be loving. If you want forgiveness, then be forgiving of those around you. How odd to think that I am in the driver’s seat in determining how God will treat me.
So the question then becomes, what do you want from God? For me, personally? I’d like God to smile when God sees me coming and welcome me in when I arrive. So, I am working on my hospitality and welcome… to everyone. And it feels pretty good to be the smiling face of welcome. It fills me with joy.
Do I know that my entrance into the presence of God is most likely more complicated than that? Of course I do. But I love the idea of reflecting the love and welcome of God to others. Honestly, that should be our starting point in how we interact with everyone we meet. That’s how God acts. And I do think that it brings a smile to God’s face which is enough for me for now.
Which brings me back to hope in the new year. I know that when I am sick, my Lord is here to comfort me. I know that when I am down, he lifts me up. I know that when I am happy, he shares my joy and when I cry, he wipes away my tears. I could hope for no more and deserve far less. So whatever this year brings, I resolve to face it with hope. As it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, “Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (11:1). Amen!
Mathew Weisbeck is the pastoral associate at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.