The name “January” comes from the Roman god Janus, the god with two faces, one looking to the past and the other looking to the future. This is indeed a time to look back at the year that is ending and to look forward to the new year ahead of us. How did I spend this one year of my life? Did I use it to advance my goals and objectives in life? Could I have done better last year in the way I invested my time between the demands of work, family, friends and society, and the demands of my spiritual life?
Through soul searching questions like these we find that a review of the past year naturally leads to setting goals and resolutions for the new year. This is what St. Paul writes: “Brothers and sisters, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13).
We are called to focus our efforts toward our ultimate goal which is to get the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
For some people New Year resolutions are useless, however setting new goals and making resolutions can be viewed as necessary conclusion to our review of the past year. And we certainly do need to review our lives from year to year because, as Socrates says, the unexamined life is not worth living.
During this time of the year we come across many individual and collective New Year resolutions. Most of those, however, are not really resolutions at all but only wishes. What is the difference between a resolution and a wish? A wish identifies a goal or dream one wants to reach, a resolution on the other hand is a determined decision to achieve that goal or dream.
The wishful person says “I want to successfully pass my exams this year” and the resolved person says “I will devote an extra hour to my studies every day in order to pass my exams.”
The wishful person says “I want to have more peace and love in my family this year” and the resolved person says “I will spend more time with my family at the dinner table, instead of rushing off to the TV or to my phone.
The wishful person says “I will become more spiritual and closer to God this year” and the resolved person says “I will set aside this time every day to pray and hear God’s word and I will go to Church at least once a month.”
The questions for you and me is this: are we prepared to put real efforts, to make changes and necessary sacrifices to realize our New Year resolutions?
We cannot change the past, therefore glancing on the past year with thorough observation, we have to think about things ahead and move toward our future goals with concrete resolutions. Even though we do not know what the future holds for us but in Christ we trust and put our hope, so we have to press toward our goal with that assurance in heart.
Once a young alpinist was climbing the mountain of Alp with his teacher when they got to a dangerous spot, where underneath was deep hole and up ahead was this unconquerable mountain. He panicked and said, “Teacher we are dying” and the teacher replied, “Do not look back, look ahead only and step exactly in my footsteps and follow me, you are going to be alright.”
Christ our Lord and Teacher likewise tells us not not to look back and be overwhelmed by it, only learn from the past and press forward by following Him and His footsteps. Yes, we do not know what the future will bring but we know this: Christ is going to be with us every step of the way and he is going to lead us by giving us the right direction and guidance.
May each one of us have a happy, healthy and blessed New Year filled with joy, peace, love and harmony. May all of us, with God’s help be able to map out this new year with a great Christian spirit of determination and right resolutions which will eventually lead us to get “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”