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What Do WE Bring Into The New Year (2021)?

We have just crossed the doorway that leads into Year 2021! May we greet first, A HAPPY, HEALTHY and BLESSED NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!

Isn’t it a good time to remind us, ask and explore this simple question during the first month of the year: What do we bring into the New Year? Translated literally in Pilipino or Tagalog, it means “Ano ang bitbit natin sa Bagong Taon”? What do we want to bring to our life this New Year? What are our plans for this year amidst the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic? Probably, most of us by now have realized and learned a lot in the last year particularly on how to manage stressful situations and on how to deal problems, mostly due to the corona virus which has changed some of us, which has awaken us in so many ways.

From the new normal, we usher in the New Year 2021 – the New Future- filled with hope that the new year will change things for the better and improve our lives. Now is the time for us to start fresh as we peer into the new year. We may have so many things in mind to consider and ponder on about this to better ourselves, however one big question mark would be: ARE WE WORKING ON IT WITH CONVICTION? Covid 19 virus poses as a reminder to us that life is fragile, that quality time for families is essential and that our spiritual growth/development (our relationship with God) is more important than anything else.

Certainly, we want to discard old personal baggage by leaving them behind and shunning negativity which fizzled out the spark in us, especially those bad habits that are hard to break. As much as possible, we don’t want to bring them with us to avoid facing once again “rough roads” along the way but instead capture the goodness this new year may bring. Some of us may opt to formulate and articulate New Year’s resolutions, mainly for self improvement, for general happiness, for a healthier us, and personal progress, so we can choose to be better versions of ourselves characteristically. Great! But how about bringing along with us and sharing the following to the New Year, to others: 1. God and 2. Peace?

In life, at times we do need a new start, a new beginning. Since our life is not perfect, we are besieged with challenges which could serve at times as a “test” of our character, on how we allow these challenges make our life miserable or make us stronger and more resilient. 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 these challenges. Sure, 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 of which is through God’s help.

As mentioned earlier, we have to always bring Jesus in our journey to the new year as we used to bring Him during the past years. We have to continue carrying Him in our hearts so we can share Him and what we have to others too, especially during trying times. Jesus is our strength whenever we’re weak, He gives us hope when we feel hopeless, encourages us whenever we’re discouraged, and most of all He is the only one who can offer us a real 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 in our spiritual life as well. If we make God as the center of our life, the probability of attaining our objectives is greater, depending on our commitment to it.

The month of January is filled with the celebration of feast days about Jesus from the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus, Black Nazarene to the Feast of Sto. Nino. There is no way we will forget to bring Jesus in our midst, otherwise, it only means we haven’t changed that much. We still live in our own world, a world of self-righteousness and pride. This pandemic is viewed by some as a wake-up call, for us to change our evil ways and go back to God. But have we been truly woken up?

We’re just starting the year, and yet Jesus is already the “star” in our church activities. As such, we should make Him also as the “star” in the new story of our lives. As Pope Francis once mentioned, if we want a happy life, we should be open and attentive especially to helping those in need, those who feel lonely and abandoned, those who no longer find meaning in their lives and those who do not know Jesus. The Holy Father further 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)”.

Another essential thing to bring into the new year is PEACE. Incidentally, if there’s one thing mankind needs now, that would be PEACE.

As some of us know, almost anywhere in the world is currently in chaos caused by wars, armed conflicts, terrorism, greed, hatred and other forms of violence. Even in virtual gatherings/interactions in social media, there are some who are capable of displaying their pride and self-righteousness, at times resorting to ad hominem attacks and spewing vile hatred in online rants, as if the world is not facing a terrible health crisis. We haven’t changed that much. People in some countries thirst and cry out for peace. Other countries are experiencing troubled times as well, struggling against organized crime, corruption and trafficking in illicit drugs and humans, among others. Even in our respective homes and small communities, envy, pride and hatred emanate among its members. How can we start bringing peace into the new year, at least in our homes and communities? How can we find peace in ourselves each and everyday?

Jesus wants us to be instruments of peace. We are called to be one, to be bearers of peace and the Good News. It may not be easy to be one as it is a great and noble responsibility, but still it is possible and it can be done. It is during these times when we need God to grant us the grace of humility, strength and courage to help us cultivate love and non-violence in our thoughts, words and deeds. St. Mother Teresa once stated “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace—just get together, love one another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”. Thus, if we embrace peace, mercy and love in our hearts and radiate the same to our families, our communities and our world, everything will turn out to be beautiful!

Remember one of the Beatitudes of Jesus? Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. This is a legit call for us, especially the youth who are considered to be hope of society, to be peacemakers. It would depend on us if we strive to heed the said call to bring peace to all. Doing so would definitely make Jesus happy even how little our effort may be!

And so we pray :
Lord, make us an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light
and where there is sadness, joy……

We also pray that all of us bring into the New Year Jesus and Peace and embrace them with open arms, that we open our homes to others especially those who need God’s love and salvation. We also pray that everyone gets the chance to have a fresh start, and be drawn more closer to Christ, and with the hope and blessings that this Covid-19 pandemic will be gone soon and forever. Amen.