Will 2015 be a year of newness, or of "more of the same"? If the situations or relationships or routines which dragged us down last year threaten to cast a shadow over the so-called new year, then how can we resolve to have a fresh start in '15?
I think joy is the answer. Joy opens us to the light. Joy brings us that peace which the world cannot give.
When I allow myself to be surprised by joy, I am reminded that the worries and regrets and anxieties which may be haunting me are largely out of my control. I cannot change them, although moments of joy remind me that I can change myself. Thanks to the gratuitous gift of God's grace, of course, I know that real change is possible. I've seen and touched such joy.
Indeed, if I open myself to living out of a place of joy rather than of discontent, I suddenly find myself appreciating the quirky twists of divine providence and the oft-overlooked humor of the Holy Spirit. So if 2015 is going to be a year of newness, I need to live out these simple strategies:
- To identify the people and places and activities that foster joy in my life--maximizing my time in these zones.
- To admit that doing God's will brings me great joy--even if it is challenging--, whereas merely doing my own will leaves me with that "more of the same" feeling.
- To etch out more silence each day, since embracing joy requires listening to my heart, rather than living inside my head or my busybody-ways.
Ultimately, the Joy of the Gospel provides the antidote for which our weary world longs. There are, of course, countless ways to dive more deeply into this life of joy. What if I received Christ in the Sacraments, as if for the first time, during this new year? What if I allowed the living Word of God to pierce and soothe my heart, week after week? What if I sat each day in the presence of the One Who Is, accepting that his profound personal love holds me in existence each day?
Another way to embrace this newness in 2015 would be to join hundreds of others around the country in reading Pope Francis' powerful reflection on Christian joy, Evangelii Gauidium--one paragraph per day. If you haven't already signed up to receive a daily dose in your personal email, just go to http://www.ajoywhichisshared.org/. The sections are short enough that they can be read in a couple of minutes each day, and yet rich enough to inspire real transformation.
Pope Francis speaks from the heart, straight to the hearts of everyday believers like you and me. So let's embrace and share the joy in 2015: after all, there's always time to jump into joy!
Finally, what if we opened our eyes to the deeper, secret source of joy throughout this new year? In other words, what if we embraced the fact that it is the Lord Jesus himself--born among us, risen and reigning; present both in the least and in his body, the Church--who shares his joy with each of us each day? The resulting sense of gratitude for such a gift would certainly bring a newness to 2015.
Let this be our prayer, and our joyful resolution!