By Rick Berube
CSS Associate Chaplain
As the New Year begins, we hope and pray that the peace and joy wished upon family members and friends and that the love and affection shown them during this season will endure throughout the year and beyond. It is a hope and a dream that could well be held on to if we can avoid slipping into the possible boredom of distracting routines, and open ourselves up to discovering what is new, as the Christmas stories invite us to do.
While many analysts and reporters focus on obstructions to progress, some did recognize gains achieved by nations on certain social justice fronts. Certainly, in our own midst we know that positive, uplifting stories of openness, acceptance, love, and kindness did unfold. The outpouring of support to our neighbours in Fort McMurray, the generous welcoming of Syrian refugees, and the increasing numbers of community members supporting our Agency’s works of mercy are only a few examples of local events worthy of celebration and optimism.
Still, we are called by the Church to remain diligent.
In our modern-day living, the moral relativity of truth has rendered people everywhere a little more easily manipulated and divided on the priority of certain ideals. We risk becoming the helpless pawns of ambitious and often deceitful leaders promising transformation and a better world. As we witnessed south of the border (and in our own province and country), electoral outcomes that may have seemed improbable have suddenly become the new reality. Soon enough, we can expect a fresh set of forces to overwhelm us, and the usual alienation from our political, social, financial, and even religious institutions to return.
The ebb and flow of these social and political shifts over time seem only to perpetuate social marginalization and discontent, and, increasingly, our trust and faith in institutional leaders diminishes. Such patterns will likely continue under this logic of the world. The biblical vision of nations free from strife, division, xenophobia and war, and from injustice and suffering remains obscure and elusive.
Yet deeply ingrained in our being, there is a yearning for this vision to come about.
It may be possible to maintain real and lasting hope for change at the personal, local and even international levels, but we may well have to rely on a different logic to access this change. Our corporate and other social constructs will not change things for us; it will be for us to make them change. Letting go of those many certainties they promote, we are invited to consider with courage, trust, and openness the logic of God which Christ’s Incarnation has tendered.
We recall that through His Incarnation, God restored the fullness of our human nature so that we no longer need to live in fear and anxiety. We no longer need to feel separated from people who are different from us. We can now see the face of God in all of them, and in all things. We can be free of the naïve beliefs and false convictions that our societal elites are inclined to affirm and promote.
The vision of better things does not need to recede into the shadows during the early months of 2017.
As we embrace the New Year, we remember Pope Francis’ exhortation: “Let us not fall into humiliating indifference or a monotonous routine that prevents us from discovering what is new!” (Misericordiae Vultus.)
The New Creation has made it possible, first, to find joyful reconciliation and quietude within ourselves; then to renew understanding and reconciliation between family members, neighbours and friends; and eventually, through our transformed selves, to allow our peace to flow into the world.
Good and True Companion, during this New Year, allow us to live deeply with purpose, to live freely with detachment, to live wisely with humility, to live justly with compassion. Be with us, Lord, and give us peace (freely adapted from J. Rupp, “Out of the Ordinary.”)