A Jesuit Reflection on the New Year
Tags: Jesuit, Jesuit Father Pat Earl, jesuits, New Year's Day, Society of Jesus, Solemnity of Mary
The following is an edited version of the homily Jesuit Father Pat Earl, pastor of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Charlotte, N.C., delivered on January 1, 2012, reflecting on the New Year, which coincides with the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Jesus’ life begins with Mary. It is only fitting therefore that we begin our new year with this solemn feast of Mary, the Mother of God. I am sure we all begin the New Year with hopes and prayers.
There’s a wonderful prayer given to us by Dag Hammarskjöld. He was the UN Secretary General in the 1950s. He always began his new year with this prayer:
For all that has been – thanks! To all that shall be – yes!
I’ve developed my own New Year’s custom; I read a reflection from fellow Jesuit Father Rodney Kissinger, who lives in New Orleans and is 97 years old, so you can appreciate that Fr. Rodney comes with a heap of experience and a lot of wisdom too. That’s why I’d like to share with you something of his wisdom as we begin the New Year:
There is only one love – God’s own love. We are not creators; we are only receivers and transmitters of God’s own love. We simply accept this love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us. We let this love permeate our being, radiate from us and overflow to others. This love of God working on us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Whether we live a long life or a short one, whether we are sickly or healthy, whether we are rich or poor, learned or uneducated, whether we accomplish much or little in this world, is only incidental. What is important is that I make the love of God visible in me, that I give the love of God credibility so that others may believe, hope and love – and be happy to be themselves.
How then are we to live in the coming year? First of all, we are not to sweat the incidentals of life. Jesus tells us not to worry about what we wear or eat. Rather than worrying, we are to focus on what is absolutely certain and important: making God’s own love visible in us – making God’s own love touchable through us.
We are to say “Yes! Yes!” to the love we find already present in our hearts and not be afraid of where that love will take us. If we follow love’s lead – which is God’s own lead – then we will be happy to be ourselves. And then – blessing of all blessings – we will help others be happy to be themselves!
What a year awaits us! Have a Happy New Year!
Fr. Earl’s entire homily is available on his blog.