Musings On New Year: Rekindling and Deepening Our Faith in God
We have just crossed the doorway that leads into Year 2023! A HAPPY and BLESSED NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL!
As we peer into Year 2023, now is the best time for us to start fresh by thinking and welcoming new possibilities, and forgetting the tangled web of failures and negativities encountered during the past year. In life, we do need a fresh start, a new beginning. Since our life is not perfect, we are besieged with challenges that serve as a “test” of our character, and on how we allow these challenges make our life either miserable or stronger. But what is more beautiful is that there is always an opportunity to start from scratch all over again and reboot life, so to speak, whenever we go wrong in addressing challenges. Certainly, rebuilding one’s life from scratch is no easy task but there are many possible ways on how to do it the right way. And one sure way is through God’s help.
When we were young, some of us were taught in religion or catechism class that God has a purpose for us here on earth, i.e., 3 basic but important tenets in our Christian life in order to gain everlasting happiness with God in Heaven: to know, to love, and to serve God. As we grow older, these brief precepts appeared to have been either forgotten, unheeded by many of us, or even unheard of particularly by most children and the youth of today.
Various factors could have contributed to the said shift in our religious beliefs and preferences and these are due to external and internal factors affecting our respective environments. Apart from science and technology, which could have adverse impact on us personally, the level of maturity and spiritual growth of each and everyone of us are likewise worth noting. If our spirituality is strong, developed and is considered essential in our lives, there is no reason why our faith and love for God would falter and be affected by any outside evil forces. Our faith and love for God should be first and foremost in our hearts because when the source of our faith and love is God, it will never fail. On the other hand, if we seldom or do not cling to God anymore, our spiritual growth shall become crooked and tainted, focusing not anymore on our relationship with Him but on worldly success and recognition.
With technology advancement and the modern society that we are in, some of us would begin to adopt and rationalize our bad behavior, knowingly or unknowingly, including prioritizing career growth over spiritual, relishing on the world of rich and famous, and enjoying the influence of glitz and glamour, among others. There is nothing wrong in having all of these material successes and pleasures, it is part of our personal economic progress. I am reminded though of my “friend’s” beautiful message in his valedictory address years’ ago: “Success should not be measured by money. Money is just a thing, and its value is relative. A beggar who spends his $10 to feed his family is richer than a man who saves money for the sake of saving money. Money is worthless until you spend it the right way. We become rich not because we have a lot of money, we become rich because we use our money the right way. True success is not just about money nor fame. True success lies beneath the value that we make out of the things that we have”. This, I think is one way where we could practice and apply the virtue of faith, particularly in setting goals that are in accord with God’s precepts. The New Testament reminds us about Jesus’ response to a query posed to him regarding riches and renunciations. Jesus said, “ For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.”
We often hear high-falutin buzzwords such as consumerism, freedom of speech, gender equality, globalization, human rights, trade liberalization, open access to information, empowerment and its variants. According to some experts, results would show that these policy statements have actually produced good effects on an ailing economy. There’s certainly nothing wrong with all of these especially if it’s for the sake of a better economy, transparency and governance. However, some of us utilize the same to express only what we think, our selfish interests, preferences and prejudices and even to the extent of setting aside or ignoring our religious beliefs. This is where our Church should come in to remind us that we have certain rules to follow, rules that are not made by man but by God.
The first day of the year is an appropriate time for us to rekindle and reaffirm our commitment to knowing, loving and serving God. At times, it is good to go back to our childhood days and reflect on it – those times when we were closer to God, when we were more naïve of material things and personal desires, when we paused and stopped whatever we do when we hear the Angelus bells ring at the distant church to pray. Aren’t all these beautiful memories? Just real talk, how I wish I wasn’t exposed to the outside world! However, that is the beauty and spice of life, as they say. We stumble, struggle, and fall. We are fortunate to be given the opportunity to rise up, to do good and be a much better version of God’s followers on earth.
Faith is a supernatural gift from God. One time, I jokingly told the young boys and girls in my previous religion/catechism classes to pray and ask God for the gift of faith as it can’t be bought or sourced from shopping malls or in any online stores. The makeshift prayer corner served as a comforting place for the kids to tell God about anything they wish to say. Fortunately, it worked because they looked forward to gathering around the corner every time we met.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is our strength whenever we’re weak, He gives us hope when we feel hopeless and encourages us whenever we’re discouraged, and most of all, He offers us a fresh start, ready to raise us up whenever we fall. We should let Jesus enter into our hearts to lead us to the right path wherever we’re destined to be, not only in terms of our personal growth but more in our spiritual life. If we make God as the center of our lives, the probability of attaining our objectives is greater, however, it would still depend on our commitment to it.
On the very first day of the year, January 1st, we are celebrating the Motherhood of Mary (Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God), reminding us of her role played in the history of salvation. Our Blessed Mother made possible the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, making her the mother of God. She’s actually the first one to kiss the Baby Jesus, in person! She had that privilege being His mother. Have we realized this before? Our Blessed Mother’s faith in God is exemplary. That is why the Church is encouraging us to imitate her faith. Pope Francis once stated, “when we celebrate Jesus, faith becomes hope; it becomes a leaven and a blessing. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, Christ makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew” (Evangelii Gaudium, 3)”.
For this month of January, the Holy Father is requesting us to pray for the educators that “they may be credible witnesses, teaching fraternity rather than competition and helping the youngest and most vulnerable above all”. Amen.
O Holy Mary, our hope, handmaid of the Lord, pray for us.
Jesus, King of Mercy, we trust in You. Amen.
Once again, A Happy New Year and A Happy Rekindled Faith to All!
This article has also been published in a Catholic magazine abroad authored by the same blogger.