To some people, New Year is a time to party, to watch a few movies, and maybe to make a few resolutions that they know, deep down inside, they won’t keep. It’s still all of those things for me, but New Year is also a time for reflection – a convenient benchmark for measuring what I’ve learned so far, not just in the last year but all along the winding and unpredictable road I’ve been travelling.
“Repent” Jesus exhortation in the gospel today, was loud and clear and urgent. “Repent’ for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What does he mean? What else if not that his hearers turn their backs on their sins, their wrongdoings, their vices, their addictions? They were to make a complete turnaround, a conversion, and a change of heart.
“Repent” An order to remove whatever runs counter to God’s will, yes, sin in all its ugly forms, but more, the root of it all: self-seeking, self-centeredness, worship of the self. A challenge to cleanse the self of whatever is unworthy of the Divine Presence within; a call to self-emptying, if you wish.
Such reflections make me aware that whatever wisdom I possess has not been of my own making. Most of the worthwhile ideas I have acquired have been taken entirely from someone else or are modifications of somebody’s thoughts. It’s quite humbling to recognize that I don’t have as many original thoughts as I sometimes think I do. I’m not referring here just to book-learning because, though I’m a perpetual person, most of my truly significant learning has come from experience – very often the experience of listening to the wisdom of others and the experience of having and of being with God.
I’m fortunate enough to know a few people who seem to have a high level of serenity, people who appear quite content with themselves and who deal with life’s problems far more calmly than I do. I know them well enough to know that it’s not a pretense; they are really happy people. I listen to what they say because I want what they have – and one thing I have learned to do is to listen more and talk less.
Life can be difficult when we obsess about our errors, mistakes and failures. Guilt is a useless emotion. What I’ve learned is that one can have only a certain number of constructive reactions to one’s own errors: correct them when possible, learn from them and try not to repeat them, and apologize fro them when necessary. After all life won’t be complicated if we only follow Christ Jesus.
From today’s first reading as the reflection goes on; from 1 John 3:22; 4:6
We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belongs to God refuses to her us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.
From the book of Psalm 2:7bc-8
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord, who said to me, “you are my son, today I am your father.” Only ask it of me, and I will make your inheritance the nations, your possession the ends of the earth.
Come to think of it: before Jesus died on the cross, he has undergone already a series of dying to self, or of letting-go of whatever was precious to him. From the scriptural readings, (I John, Psalm and Gospel) Jesus invites us to follow him also in our own series of dying to self and of letting-go, because Jesus is the true light of the world that illumines our path darkened by sin, misery and violence. As to song goes; A light has dawned from the horizon, telling us the story. Reminding us of how he won the dark years of our history. Illumined by his light we see that life is not worth living if we don’t seek the truth that lives deep in our hearts.
When I reflect on what I’ve learned, therefore, I can compare how I am now to how I once was, and happy to say that I see growth and progress. Looking back, I see that my life used to revolve almost entirely around excitement, anxiety, or depressions. I can still become excited, anxious, or depressed at times, but I am far better balanced and less prone to extremes. By sharing this perspective on my life, wise men and women have given me positive outlook.
The knack to interact to others is an imperative God-given device for us to be in solidarity with our brethrens. Being here in Starjed, as HuFED-Head in the company of people of divergent customs and personalities from different walks of life would be a miserable life for me if there’s no communication among us. As I go on in my journey, I would always remember that ‘no man is an island.’ I may conquer the whole world but loosing my connection to others and to God, happiness would never be achieved. The most important aspect which we human beings should develop is our relationship with God.