We are coming to the end of January 2021. The year is however still new and we are still beginning to enter into it. Each of us comes to this new year with some relief and much gratitude for having made it through the pandemic in 2020. We had difficulties and challenges. Now we look ahead to 2021 with new hopes, new plans, and new opportunities.
Let us then take some time to put the new year into perspective and consider how we can better live as Christians. To help us do this, I invite us to watch this video in which Fr Mike Schmitz reflects on hope for the new year:
These are some points Fr Mike makes:
- He points out that the optimism the “spirit” of New Year’s brings is a great inspiration for the interior life of the Christian. For each of us, last year probably had a fair mix of “wins” and “losses” – of joy and suffering. Fr. Mike zeroes in on what was probably the worst evil and the greatest suffering you encountered last year – sin. Sin can lead to discouragement and embarrassment, and those demons can keep us from moving forward in hope.
- Maybe you’ve been wrestling with the same sin for a long time, or maybe you don’t want to go to the same priest about the same sin again and again. Maybe you feel like giving up. But we can have hope – “trust in another extended into the future” – in Jesus and in the sacrament of confession. As Fr. Mike’s friend Nick says, “If you fall, fall into the confessional.”
- Discouragement and embarrassment, he says, have no place in the life of the Christian. They keep us in the past, while their converses – hope and humility – keep us moving forward. This year is going to have its ups and downs, and we know we can’t trust in ourselves. But we can trust in Him in whom we place our hope. He has a plan for us and he also offers us the sacrament of confession to help us when we fall into sin. In this sacrament, God assures us His mercy is always for us.
- How do we embrace God’s mercy? By humbling ourselves, Fr Mike teaches. Humbling ourselves to come to God as we are — as people who have sinned and yet a people who hope that God’s mercy forgives and transforms us to be better. We do not need to pretend to be someone else when we come before God; let us come as we are.
- It also helps when we humble ourselves to know who God as God really is in our lives and not what we want God to be. Then, we can more attentively open ourselves to what God most wants to do for us — to love us, forgive us when we fail, and give us life with him.
I find Fr Mike’s reflection on the sacrament of confession a good reminder. It offers us hope. All of us struggle with sin. In these COVID-19 times, many of us might be struggling even more with sin because we are focusing more selfishly on our needs and wants. I believe when we sin, we want to come to Confession. However, there are fewer opportunities for Mass and confession because of the safety measures in place in Church. But let us make the extra effort to go to confession. So do make an appointment with your Parish priests for confession. You can also contact the SD for Courage (firstname.lastname@example.org) for confession.
For this week, I’d like to invite you to consider these 3 points for prayer and reflection:
a) As you look back on 2020, what did you learn about yourself as a person of faith, and how can this insight help you continue your Christian journey in 2021?
b) As a person with same-sex attraction, or as a family member or friend of this person, what are some obstacles that might prevent you from making the Christian journey in 2021 well? What help do you need from God to make this journey well?
c) Take some time and share with Jesus some of the reflections you gleaned from considering the questions above and from your prayer. Speak with Jesus as you would a friend — heart to heart. Pray the Our Father to end your conversation with Jesus.
Words to Encourage
Let us leave all disappointments and regrets behind. Our future in Christ is all that matters.