New Year is Time to Choose Eternity and Choose Christ
By Bishop David J. Malloy
The beginning of a new calendar year (and therefore the passing of the old year) should be a moment of serious reflection for us as Catholics and as followers of Jesus. Because this is part of the Christmas season, we should place each new year in the context of the coming of the Christ child into our lives and our world.
The birth of Jesus reminds us that we are already part of eternity by the mere fact that we exist. The gift of human life that is given to each of us comes with it the invitation and the calling to be with Christ forever in the house of the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. In short, we were made with the purpose of being happy and fulfilled for all eternity in heaven.
We are already part of eternity because God’s invitation to every human being is never withdrawn. But our earthly life is the period of trial and of using our free will to choose. In love we must choose for Christ, or we must choose something else. But choose we must, and our choice will be, in response to the invitation, a choice for all eternity.
Each turn of the new year reminds us that the day of decision is drawing nearer. We always have less rather than more time. But rather than bringing us anxiety, that reality should give us the hope of St. Paul who wrote to Timothy, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” (2 Tim, 4: 7-8).
The beginning of the new year then is a time to reflect on my spiritual progress. It’s a moment to plan for my spiritual life in the coming year. Here are some possible topics to ponder.
First, do I pray enough? The reality is for each of us the answer is almost certainly no. There is no upper limit on prayer. We can always do more. Prayer is the foundation and the bedrock of my personal relationship and encounter with Jesus. So why not consciously work this year to increase my prayer, each and every day?
Prayer must lead me to the great encounter. That is the Mass and the Eucharist. With the re-emergence of COVID-19 Mass attendance is challenged again. Many have not returned to Mass since the outbreak last year. Conscience will help to decide if on a given Sunday serious reason like health concerns related to COVID-19 might keep us away. Still, each of us must seek to fulfill our Sunday obligation of attending Mass. Mass during the week unites us to Jesus even more. And can we use this year to encourage others to return to Mass with us?
“The poor you will always have with you” Jesus has told us (Mt. 26:11). Christ has told us to care for those in need. Spiritually, can I seek to live more simply? As a result, this year can I not give greater attention and a contribution of my time and perhaps funds to assist those need?
And the great gift of life is still under attack in our society by means of abortion. 60 million or more babies have not been born in this country since abortion was legalized. This year, how can I deepen my resolution to oppose this rejection of God’s great gift? Can I pray more about this and strengthen my faithful response? Can I speak to others about this and contact my political representatives and vote in a way that puts an end to abortion?
Unlike passing New Year’s resolutions, these are suggestions that reflect a deeper vision. We are not going to live forever on this earth but our task is to seek the path to do so with Jesus in heaven. With that vision, let’s make this new year count!