MAKING 2023 A POWERFUL YEAR OF FAITH
Last weekend I began a new message series for a new year. You can go to the family website (www.chathamcatholic.ca) and follow the link or go to my website (www.revjj.ca) and click on the message series icon to watch or listen to the first homily. It is a new year and an opportunity for new beginnings—filled with optimism, joy and hope!
HOMILY #1—FAITH RESOLUTIONS
In my first homily I shared some statistics about New Year’s resolutions. The top commitments made for a new year include exercise, losing weight, saving money, eating healthier and spending more time with others. These are all wonderful things to do but are generally focused on our own wants or needs. The success rate is very poor when it comes to these resolutions.
Only 9% of people endure to the end of the year while most people quit by the second Friday of January. It is very hard to change our habits but if we persevere we can make significant steps forward in our lives that goes much deeper than the weight scale.
This message series is a chance for us to make a commitment in 2023 to discover who God has made us to be—because when that happens, everything else falls into place. We can then become the best version of ourselves resulting in true peace, joy and faith!!
My 2023 major resolutions are to (1) spend more time with God, (2) embrace discipleship and (3) see challenges as opportunities. Please watch/listen to homily #1 for a much deeper explanation of these three faith resolutions.
WHO ARE WE? AN IMPORTANT QUESTION
I think we can all understand that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that He loves us!! We know that we are called to follow wherever Christ calls us—but how can we really know where he wants us to go and what he wants us to do? What have we been made for?
(1) FINDING THE LIGHT
In the first reading from this weekend’s Mass we travel back to our Advent journey as we hear from the prophet Isaiah who says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in deep darkness—on them a light has shone.” (Isaiah 9:2)
The world around us is a very challenging place, filled with conflict, competition and selfishness. We just need to watch the news or look at social media for many examples. While this is true, the world is also filled with goodness, compassion, hope and joy. There is a lot of light around that we need to be mindful of if we are going to be transformed.
God offers His light that fills our hearts and inspires us to serve and share the Gospel. We need to step into that light by using the gift of our faith to see things differently. To see things the way God sees.
(2) UNITED ON THE JOURNEY
The second reading from this weekend’s Mass comes from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. He writes, “…that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.” (1 Corinthians 1:10) For us to discover who God has made us to be requires one another—together as one family drawing closer to Christ.
As a family of parishes, we need to be united with the same mind and same purpose to proclaim the Good News by forming disciples who reach out to all. Our mission is not to stand still, to be protective of our individual parishes, but to share the best of what each community has to offer for the sake of the light that we have been given—that needs to be shared. The Gospel is not our own—it is Christ who calls us to share in the victory of the Cross. A cross of sacrifice, love and unity.
(3) REPENTANT RESOLUTIONS
At the end of this weekend’s gospel from Matthew, we hear Jesus proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17) Repentance is not limited to turning away from sin but involves a complete change of mindset, priorities and purpose. When Jesus calls us to repentance, he invites us to live a new life with him and through him. It is a call to become what God has made us to be—a return to our full selves!!
This repentance is received and experienced of course in the gift of the Eucharist and most powerfully in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our faith guides us to renew, reorganize and change, but it doesn’t stop there. We must also inspire and assist others helping them draw closer to Jesus through our service and outreach so that everyone may be transformed. This is done most powerfully not by preaching but by radiating actions of sacrifice, compassion, mercy and love to those who are in the darkness—we need to become the light!!