Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Wish you all a grace filled New Year.
The New Year heralds a new beginning in our lives. In the plan of God every new beginning calls for a renewal where the promise of God is fulfilled
“Behold, I come to make all things new” ( Rev 21:5).
As the word reveals, such renewal is initiated with the coming of the Lord. And he comes into our lives to become a part of our struggles. Indeed this is the good news of Christmas. God becoming Emmanuel. God with us.
“He will renew you in his love” (Zeph 3:17)
Speaking of the most fundamental experience of being Christian, St Paul writes,
“whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17).
The newness of our life is not what we achieve by our efforts but what is offered to us by the lord. What is necessary for us is to get incorporated into the person of Jesus Christ. This phrase in Christ occurs in St Paul’s writings very often., The phrase has a very deep meaning in its original Greek Term. ‘enchristo’. It means being incorporated into Christ so as to become one with him. The original inspiration for this should be from the teachings of the lord himself. Inviting us to be one with him, Jesus narrate the parable of the vine and the branches (Jn 15 :1-9). He presents Himself as the main stem of the vine and those who believe in him as the branches. They are invited to be part of Him.
”I am the vine you are the branches whoever remains in me, and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5)
Faith indeed is a total abandonment of one’s life to Jesus in such a way that one finds the meaning of existence in Jesus. To be cut off from Jesus would amount to getting dried up and being lost. “anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them in the fire and they will be burnt” v.6). Christian life therefore is a life of intimate union with the Lord.
In the beginning of the New Year we are naturally inclined to look back into the past. We would regret the opportunities lost. The goals not achieved, the projects not completed, the unhappiness caused by others, thus looking into the year that passed by could be very discouraging. At this juncture we could take two postures. Either we can become negative and feel defeated or we can become positive and make new decision for a better living. Perhaps both these approaches need not be inspired by faith. Becoming negative of course and slipping into despair is definitely against the good news of Jesus. It will drain our hearts empty. Again making new decisions about the future does not improve the situation. We only need to look back and remember how we made many decisions in the past and most of them were violated undoubtedly, our enthusiasms to improve the quality of our life is well meant and necessary. However one could reach the same mood of despair at the end of the day. St Paul speaks about this predicament of the human mind (Rom 7 :15-24). Starting with the pain of incomprehension he writes, “I do not know what’s happening to me. “ With the sorrow of helplessness he continues to describe that he can only decide to do good but is unable to carry out that decision. What he ends up doing is what he never wanted to do. With more acute pain he adds that this leads him to the realization that he is not in control of himself, rather it is evil powers that control him. I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members (Rom 7:23) . He concluded lamenting. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:24). What is distressing is that in spite of all his enthusiasm and the firm intent to be good, he ends up with the same sense of emptiness. The finest of decisions do no save us, as the saying goes, “the path to hell is paved by good intentions”. Finally St Paul turns his gaze to Jesus and here in the Lord finds his salvation.
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:25)