Happy New Year!
We will be hearing this phrase on everyone’s lips for the next several days! The idea of a new year is a wonderful human invention. My cats don’t know that it’s a new year and they know almost everything!
By new year we have the idea that time is broken up into discreet segments. There is the old, which has past and finished, let go and reviewed and then there is the new, which is fresh and able to be imagined, planned and shaped. As we enter a new year we have the feeling we can say goodbye to bad habits and experiences and say hello to the ideal me. We also have the idea that another page has turned and only so many pages are left.
Our Gospel is all about the eternal new-now, human renewal if you will. Nicodemus asks Jesus, “How can a person be born anew? Is it really possible? Aren’t we fooling ourselves to imagine we can be living differently this year than last year? Isn’t character, destiny? Is there anyway of escaping ourselves?
Yes, we make resolutions, but we wouldn’t need to if we had kept the resolutions from previous years.
Yet the scriptures say, that what is impossible from a human perspective is not impossible from God’s perspective. We might know that our resolutions are pipe-dreams, but the Gospel offers a radical break with our way of living by inviting us to live in the eternal presence of the living God. Paul says, “For in Adam we have all died and in Christ we have all been made alive!
As Moses encounters the burning bush in the wilderness, so there is also a fire within us that burns bright but does not consume. This ever-present energy is available for those who seek it. It lifts us out of the limitations of time and into the realm of the eternal now.
Those for whom time has been cruel, are keenly aware of this other realm. The poor and the outcast, those who mourn, hunger and thirst, are forced to look beyond clocks and calendars and discover the eternal flame of light that is always available. When we encounter our own in poverty we begin the journey to the light.
So in this happy new year, there can be more than a passing fantasy of idyllic resolutions and festive celebrations. The looking back and looking forward can also be a time of looking within for the renewal that comes from encountering the eternally present light of God that is our true birthright and destiny.
May God grant all of you a peaceful renewal in the eternal joy of God’s creative presence!