New Year is an opportunity to cherish gift of life and Christ’s coming

Published: January 8, 2005

By Msgr. Richard Oswald

One week ago we celebrated the beginning of the year 2005. It was a day to thank God for the gift of life and for a new year in which to live it. It was a day to reflect on the past and dream of the future. The Bible begins and ends with similar allusions to time: the past, “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,” (Gen 1:1) and the future, “Yes I am coming soon.” (Rev 22:20) At every moment we live between the two moments described above, the first moment of creation and the moment of the second coming of Christ. Post-modern society has a problem with time. Many feel that life has no purpose or direction. We feel enslaved by time as we try to accomplish more, make more money or meet more goals. We invent new “time saving” technology, but continue to complain that there is never enough time while spending countless hours with television, video games and surfing the Internet. Time is seen as an empty space that we must fill. Because we have been born and have matured in this society we can easily be infected with these attitudes. We can forget that time is God’s creation, that time is the arena in which God’s plan is unfolding. Christ is at the center of time. The definitive moment in time has come in him. All history before him was preparation for him and was fulfilled in him. All history since waits in expectation for his return. Christ is both the center of time and its conclusion. Through his incarnation Christ has shared the experience of time with us. He remains with us and in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through baptism we enter into life with him. Though we live in this present age we are joined to the world to come through him. We can truly say that the kingdom of God has come to us while, at the same time, we await its fulfillment. Because Christ has inaugurated the future fulfillment of God’s plan, the time in which we live is sacred. We celebrate the sacredness of time through our daily prayer and the choices we make about how to use the time, talent and treasure God has given us. The preeminent way in which we experience and celebrate the sacredness of time is in our celebration of the sacraments as we pass through the cycles of our liturgical calendar each year. We commemorate the great deeds of salvation history such as Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and his sending the Holy Spirit to us. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist these events are not only remembered, they become present to us. The solemn celebration of special feasts and seasons such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter can raise our awareness and experience to an even higher level. Pope John Paul has reminded us that time is sacred by declaring a Year of the Eucharist, 12 months of time to acknowledge the great gift and mystery of the Eucharist. We have begun a new year. The choices we make in the present will generate our past. Although we are not in total control of the future, God has given us the freedom to make choices about what is to come. We can use this time to relish the gift of life and strive to live it knowing Christ is with us and Christ will come again. Msgr. Richard Oswald is pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers.