Giving up New Year’s resolutions for Christmas

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | January 7, 2016

A lot of people give up a lot of things for Lent. I give up New Year’s resolutions for Christmas.

Think about it. The holidays may be over, but the Church continues the celebration of the Christmas season all the way until Sunday, Jan. 10, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The great mystery of Christmas is still unfolding.

The decorations have come down and permanent trees are packed away. Radio stations stopped playing Christmas music and people stopped saying “Merry Christmas” Dec. 26.

Even the greeting “Happy New Year!” stopped Jan. 2.

Meanwhile, those who do New Year’s resolutions have gone back to the mirrors of self-reflection and come up with a list of all that needs to change. Resolutions for self-improvement are important, yet how can we look at who we want to be in the new year until we have once again entered the mystery of who we are in the timeless revelation of who God is in Jesus Christ?

It seems out of place to say “woe, woe, woe” after a time of “ho, ho, ho.” The holidays are, after all, a time of merriment and a respite from the challenges of life. The arrival of a new year gives us permission to offer toasts of wishful thinking in the midst of global troubles. Resolutions for self-improvement, however, give us a false impression that if we just go to the gym more, eat less and reply sooner to emails, we can make right all that is wrong in the world through a list of personal promises for the future.

Why should we begin the new year with yet another example of failure in the quest to be perfect? We are imperfect people in an imperfect world. The true meaning of Christmas is lost when we ignore the powers of sin and death so as to make merry for a few days of presenting well-intended gifts and gatherings with too much food.

It is the Christmas season and we still have time to reflect on God’s unconditional gift of love, revealed in a child born of Mary — Jesus Christ — one of us and one with us. We still have time to ponder the feasts of the Holy Family; Mary, Mother of God; Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. Unlike the holidays, which are here one day and gone the next, the mysteries of our faith are part of our everyday lives, regardless of the seasons of nature and not bound by this world’s festivals and customs.

To enter into the very mystery of life and reflect on the miraculous birth in Bethlehem is to encounter a world filled with darkness and devoid of hope. Sin sabotages all efforts to make things perfect, even for the holidays. Death knows not our seasons and cares not that there are empty chairs around the table of every festive gathering with family and friends.

The good news of Christmas and the joy of the Gospel is that the light born in Bethlehem is greater than all darkness. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are given a mercy greater than all sin and a life greater than death itself. Christmas is the birth of Easter and it is a season to be filled with awe, wonder and grace because of what God has done, is doing today and will do in every year to come.

There is still time in the Christmas season to reflect on all these things and — in the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary — treasure the mysteries of faith in our hearts.

As for that list of resolutions, I gave them up for Christmas. Lent comes early this year and will be here soon enough for a season of to-do lists for self-improvement. Yes, we have finished doing the holidays, but God is still doing Christmas for those disciples of Jesus Christ who know all too well that we need it.

Merry Christmas, and in this new year just begun, happy Easter!

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Category: Only Jesus

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