This New Year will be the best of Years and this all depends on us and most important God’s amazing grace! Hope, trust, joy, confidence, peace and happiness should be sentiments that simply overflow in the heart of a true follower of Jesus.
Jesus’ Birthday must be a source of the greatest joy and happiness. The reason for this most joyful of Seasons is the Person of Jesus the Lord. He came to save us from sin, sadness, the slavery of the devil, the fiery pit of hell and to bring us life and life in abundance. Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection burst open the gates of Heaven; eternal salvation is ours if Jesus becomes the center of our lives.
As we enter into the threshold of the New Year why not make concrete and practical proposals that are not mere whimsical desires that will dissipate like smoke or be blown by the wind. Rather may these proposals be a solid foundation on which we can construct an edifice of true holiness that will change and orient the rest of our lives and culminate in everlasting happiness in Heaven, our eternal goal and destiny!
Therefore our over-all proposal for the New Year will be to live out the grace and fruit of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius with reference to the center of the Exercises—the Person of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This year we will beg for the grace and strive for intimate knowledge of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so as to love Him more ardently and to follow Him more closely. This grace will necessarily overflow in my relationship to others in a desire to make Jesus known and loved and followed. The end result in my person will be the words of the Apostle Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” I will aim at becoming a living reflection of Jesus, my Lord, God, Savior and Friend.
What then are ways that we can come to this deep, dynamic and fascinating relationship with Jesus the Lord? Why not read, meditate, pray over and try to assimilate these clear and concrete points for reflection!
1. No to sin. By making a firm and determined commitment to say “No” to sin as arch-enemy number one we are really saying “Yes” to Friendship with Jesus the Lord. That means that every time a temptation comes my way and I willfully reject it then what I am really saying by rejecting this temptation is “Yes” to the love of Jesus. How pleased Jesus really is when we reject forcefully temptation and even from the outset!
2. Gospels. How fortunate we are to be living in these present days that we have access to the Word of God, the Bible and the heart of the Bible the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Times past few people knew how to read and Bibles were few and far between. Not so today! Our challenge comes in another subtle but dangerous manner—too many distractions in modern life! These distractions can push aside the Person of Jesus Christ. We fall into the trap of saying: “I have no time to read and meditate upon the Word of God.” In reality, it is not a lack of time but a question of priorities. Our God is a jealous lover and will not take second place to any person, place or thing. The great Bible scholar Saint Jerome reminds us: “Ignorance of Sacred Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” In sum let us find a time, a place and good will to meditate upon the Word of God, preferably the Gospels every day as a New Year’s proposal.
3. Friendship. The fervent and frequent meditation of the Word of God, the Gospel and life of Jesus the Lord should gradually transform our lives. We will come to realize in a very deep manner that we are not alone, never alone, but always present to a Friend; this Friend is the best of all Friends—Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! During the course of the day and your daily walk, stop at times to enter into friendly conversation with Jesus. He is never even for an instant too busy to enter into conversation with you. We tend to be too busy for Him, but He is never too busy for us! The beauty of our Friendship with Jesus is that He is always knocking at the door of our hearts and we simply have to open up and He will come in to dine with us and we with Him. We all know from experience with true friends that we must expend time, energy, good will towards those friends we love most. At times we fail our best friends and they at times fail us. Not so with Jesus; He is faithful in all times, especially in those critical moments when we need Him most!
4. Share the Pearl of Infinite Price. Saint Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, can serve as a model to imitate in this respect: share your Friendship with Jesus with others. Andrew met Jesus and he was so impressed by the Person of Jesus that he could not keep it to himself. He ran to tell his brother Peter, then Nathanael, and then even the Greeks about this treasure, this pearl of infinite price—Friendship with Jesus. Now it is your turn! A sure way to grow in one’s faith is to share the faith with others. Likewise, a sure way to grow in Friendship with Jesus is to share Jesus with others. May Saint Andrew and all of the saints help us to be like a human magnet and draw others to Jesus. No greater enterprise underneath the heavens!
5. Our Lady, Jesus, and Us. Pope Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic letter “The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary” invites us to a transforming experience. It is this: to meditate and contemplate the mysteries of the Rosary. However, the grace we want to beg for is to contemplate the Face of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through both the eyes and the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There was nobody on earth that knew Jesus, loved Jesus or followed Jesus more closely than His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In conclusion, if we want to experience the best of New Year’s, then let us focus our mind, heart, soul, and exert all of our energies to know Jesus, love Jesus, follow Jesus, bring others to Jesus and be transformed into Jesus. May Our Lady grant us the grace, in union with her Immaculate Heart, to contemplate the loving Face of Jesus. “Blessed are the pure of heart they will see God.”(Mt. 5:8)