Happy New Year is what we say as we enter January, the first month of the year, filled with hope and promise. We look ahead at our hopes and dreams for the year knowing that all things are possible.
But as we look ahead this year, with the next few months of winter enveloping us in darkness, we all share an uneasy sense of helplessness that seems to permeate all we do.
Instead of post-Christmas joy, we are entering this year with fear and trepidation of the unknown – of the many unknowns – that now affect each of us daily. Although we are faced with a new year full of possibilities and circumstances, questions remain. When will the pandemic end? When will we get the vaccine? What is really going to change in our world in the future? So what do we have to look forward to?
The deep darkness that winter provides is not the best backdrop for all the unresolved feelings that haunt us daily. But for us as Catholics, all of this becomes manageable because we know that Christ is our light in the darkness. His promises are real and give us hope even when it seems there is none to be had. We have the advantage of knowing that our universal Church has and will continue to bring order out of chaos and joy out of suffering. The real question becomes how we spread that to others - specifically to those who do not have the privilege of knowing, loving and worshipping Christ. It’s a challenge we all need to face as we go about our daily routines in 2021.
To many of us it may seem like an impossible task – bringing hope to a world that is wracked with fear, pain and suffering. But truthfully, that is when the world needs to hear Christ’s message of love and forgiveness most. It is not easy to bring the importance of Christ’s message to a world that rejects it, but that’s what we are all called to do as baptized Christians.
It was not easy for Christians in the early Church, who suffered persecution and death, to witness to their faith. It was not easy for Christians in the Middle Ages, when the Church was spiritually exhausted and desperately in need of a reformation, to witness to their faith. It was not easy for Christians pre-Vatican II, when the letter of the law meant more than the spirit of the law, to witness to their faith.
It’s not easy to be a practicing Catholic and it never will be. Christ’s message is radical and countercultural. It takes hard work and dedication to share with others the faith that gives our lives meaning. That’s why Jesus came as a human being, to be a role model of how to do that. With Christ’s help and guidance, we can be the light of Christ for others in our world today. If we all embraced this in our daily lives, our world would be filled with light and love.
By Andrea D. Hoisl