Thursday, December 29, 2011

A New Year and Challenges for Christians

As Christians, we tend to agree with the Greek philosopher Heraclitus that “no one bathes twice in the same river”. As believers in Christ we live as pilgrims on our way to our Father’s house, according to a historical conception that is neither cyclical nor spiral. Nor do we live as if in a permanent reiterative happening, in a boring eternal return to things of the past, monotonous and meaningless. Rather, we understand that history is linear: as a successive and uninterrupted series of occurrences, not repetitive, leading us to the “eternal mansions” (Jn 14,2).

The conclusion of another year of the Christian era presents a unique opportunity for evaluation, and such an evaluation, for Christian disciples, has fundamentally two aspects:

  • Thanksgiving for life, for all that we are and have, for all that has happened. This includes gratitude for all that is good, for all that we enjoyed and appreciated and, at the same time, gratitude for that which was not so good, for what could have been better, for all that brought with it suffering and pain. This is the case because, thanks to our unfortunate experiences and conflicts, we had the opportunity to learn, to overcome, to struggle and advance… In addition to identifying with the Crucified One, his passion and surrender, we become his disciples in the measure that we interpret and experience our pain in the light of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • An occasion for projecting our future, of the way we will live the new year of 2012 that is upon us. Projection and planning, which for the Christian always involves the need for conversion, that is, of being transformed so that our life is like the life of Christ, with his principles, criteria and values of the gospel. Conversion and adaptation that not only involve our individual life, but —beginning with that— also include the transformation of the structures and institutions that make up our society.

A quick look at our present reality challenges us, and involves us. This particular historical, social and cultural moment calls upon all of us who make up the Church of Jesus Christ to commit ourselves to the criteria of the Kingdom as opposed to the worldly realities. A commitment to make possible, visible, livable and believable the realities of justice through peace, peace through forgiveness, solidarity through fraternity and life in all its forms and manifestations as opposed to a culture of materialism, consumerism, individualism, egotism and immediate gratification.

The great problems of individuals (living without meaning) and of humanity at large (inequity and injustice, corruption, hunger, violence and conflicts, hate and wars, as well as mistreatment of the planet) call believers in Christ to a life style and authentic experience of what it means to be Christians, a religious experience more centered in right practice than in right ideas, less pietistic and individualistic and more interested in those who are poor (“whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” Mt 25,40), a religion that is less individualistic and habitual and more social and public, less sacramentalist or ritualistic and more pastoral…

Over these days and in all corners of the earth we desire for each other a happy new year. May it be so. But as believers in Christ we know that it will not be prosperous without our involvement. The God of Jesus Christ, in whom we believe and hope, requires the work, effort, support, intelligence, honesty, generosity, and commitment of us all. May the year 2012 be full of blessings!

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