Every time that a chronological mark of a given period of life is struck, the unrelenting and powerful nature of time is felt with particular urgency. Today we feel this especially.
In these moments every one of us, aware of the action of Divine Providence upon us, recalls the “old days” and the intervening years, as we stand in need of God’s mercy, thanking God and hoping in Him. Through the mouths of the Holy Prophet Isaiah (Is 61:2) and the Lord Jesus Himself in Nazareth (Lk 4:19), the year is said to be “of the Lord” and “acceptable.” There is hardly a person who would not want each New Year in his life to be “of the Lord” and “acceptable.” This desire has gathered us now in church.
Its fulfillment depends both on God and on people.
Asking God’s blessing on the coming New Year, brothers and sisters, what should we reflect upon and what should we affirm?
We should think of God, time, and ourselves. Within this triangle lies our life with its essence and purpose.
God is not subject to anyone or to anything. He is the Creator and Lord of the world, both seen and unseen. He commandeth the world. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He has neither past nor future, but is only the present. It is essential to have the profound recognition that He contains time and seasons in His Hand – He, the Lord Almighty, Who builds everything wisely and for the love of man.
It is essential to believe in God’s power and in His Divine help, for every gift comes from above, coming from the Father of lights. The time of our life is a Divine gift. This gift, like a precious vessel, must be returned to God full of luminous impulses and good deeds.
Man is the creation of God. He is the image and likeness of God. He is the heir of eternity. His stay on earth, however, is limited. If we take into account the years of our life, then it is safe to say that we are only passing through this earth. Our earthly life is like the stars: so long as a star is in the sky, it shines; but when it falls from the sky, it flashes and sometimes burns before it reaches the earth.
Time is given by God for spiritual growth and formation. Earthly life is the beginning of eternity. Therefore we should cherish its every hour. Everything that is holy, everything that is pious in life, all our labors for salvation here on earth, will bear abundant fruit in eternal life.
With the advent of every New Year, we come closer and closer to our graves – and closer to eternity. And although this is indisputable, we seem not to notice it. We are so earth-bound, our spirit is so captivated by the flesh, that seeing we do not see, and hearing we do not hear (cf. Mt 13:13). Even when death looks us in the eyes, we somehow consider it to be impossible for ourselves. Beginning the New Year, it bears asking ourselves: might this be the last one of our lives?
Hearkening the Divine commandment, the teaching of the Holy Church, and the call of our conscience, let us pray to God at all times (cf. Ps 31:6), hoping in Him at all times (cf. 61:9), and blessing Him at all times. In the words of the Apostle Paul, As long as there is time, let us do good unto all men (Galatians 6:10).
O Lord, bless the crown of Thy year, soothe the discord of the Churches, extinguish the fury of the pagans, and extinguish heretical sophistry by the power of Thy Spirit! Accept us all in Thy Kingdom; grant us Thy peace and love, our Lord God, for Thou hast given us all things. Grant us with one mouth and one heart to glorify and honor Thy most precious and honorable Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.