Octave Day of Christmas 1.1.17 Remembering
Last night, New Year’s Eve, many people would have spent the time in drinking and general dissipation, trying to forget their sorrows.
It is one way to approach reality - trying to forget it, or avoid it.
There is a better way, however. Instead of trying to forget, or drugging ourselves against reality, why not take it head on, armed with the grace of God, and subdue it, make it work for us?
This is what the Church is doing through the liturgical year – claiming all time for God, and reminding us of how He has used it for His purposes. He is the Alpha and the Omega.
We don't need to forget; we need to remember - remember His mercies to us so far, and His future promises. We need to fill all time - every hour, every day - with the grace of God; so that whatever happens will be according to His will, and His kingdom be more fully present in the world.
Time is sometimes seen as an impersonal thing that rolls on regardless, and takes us in its course, like it or not. It is true that it will advance without our consent, but it is also true that we can get the better of it, by claiming it for God’s purposes.
It is not so much how long we have as how well we use it. Think of the many saints in our Church history. A lot of them died young, either through martyrdom or sickness. Yet they achieved so much in their short time on earth.
The intensity of their love was the key. They used the short time they had for God’s purposes.
And Mary - whose role we especially honour at this time - she gave every moment to God.
Her story did not begin at the Annunciation. She had already prepared herself for future glory by being in a constant state of union with God.
She may have been surprised to learn that she was to be the Mother of God, but she was ready for it insofar as she was already totally available to do His will.
And so should we be available. Our time is His time.
We always hope that the new year will be better than the old one, better than all the old ones.
We can go a long way towards making it so.
We can make it better than any previous year by increasing our own personal availability to do the will of God; by asking Him to take control of every moment that awaits us in the future.
What makes a year ‘good’ anyway? We might have better health; more money; more success at various ventures – but, following the example of Mary and the saints – are we doing the will of God or not? That is what makes any period of time ‘good’ – if it was used for what God intended.
‘Years’ are not put there for our own amusement; they are the backdrop of God’s saving plan unfolding in the world. Time is for Salvation. Time enables people who do not know God to come to knowledge of Him; for people who have drifted from Him to come back to Him.
Any use of time that does not fit in with that overall objective is a waste.
This is a long way from the view that time is something to be buried under a kind of unconsciousness.
It is better if we are fully conscious, always alert and aware of the presence of God. Even if we do not know what will happen next, we can make sure we are ready for whatever it is -
by giving every moment of time back to Him.