Based on my homily given at St. Alphonsus Church in Peterborough.
Most of us make New Year’s Resolutions whether we keep them or not and we usually criticize ourselves or laugh at the very notion; knowing that there’s a likelihood that whatever we resolve to do – we won’t continue.
We resolve to do things differently; maybe go to the gym or go for a long walk every day, to pray more maybe or whatever it may be. Our resolve may last a month or two, maybe even a week or two, or as much as we might hate to admit it, sometimes only a day or two – and then our New Year’s Resolution’s finished and we’re back to work or school and New Year’s is all but forgotten. Does this sound remotely familiar to anyone?
Health clubs admit they put much of their ad and marketing budget into campaigns around this time of year and make most of their revenue for the year with men and women buying yearly gym memberships that many won’t use past February. Maybe we feel a little guilty for the excess Christmas cheer or the way we rang in the New Year and our resolution comes from a notion that we have to do something drastic about it. The biggest mistake though, would be to become convinced that New Year’s Resolutions and the idea of making those resolutions are useless – they most certainly are not!
Resolutions are good in and of themselves, we just need the willpower to stick to the resolutions we make. First of all, we need to make realistic resolutions that we plan to keep, but I’m sure most of us here know that already. Our resolutions need to fit our lives. And we need to approach them with a sense of hope, a sense of promise that we can keep them and most of all joy towards the goal or the end result of the goal we seek to achieve. Resolutions are a part of “our Creed” (in a manner of speaking); they are a part of who we are as Christians. As Christians we ought to be making resolutions that we try to keep all the time.
We make resolutions when we go to confession, not to sin again and while we may have some sense in the back of our mind that we will likely have to go to confession again, our intention and our resolution is still to amend our unchristian ways and try to be the very best people we can be. Failing in a meeting a resolution is not a sign we should quit, but an invitation to begin again having asked ourselves where we went wrong. We make the resolution or our parents did at the time of our baptism; that we would stay close to the Lord, love Him and serve Him and others; to live our lives by faith & not merely for what we can see in this world.
When we profess the Creed together as a sign of unity and a sign of our faith, we seek to believe what we profess with our whole heart, mind and soul. We must resolve where we don’t believe or struggle to believe, to seek to enter more deeply into relationship with God and the Church, seeking to understand and be resolved to believe all the more.
Resolutions really are an important part of the Christian life. We are all a “work in progress”. We aren’t perfect, but we seek to be perfect. Without faith, we might seek to be just be “okay” or be good – with faith in God and through His Word Incarnate Jesus Christ; we seek to be “perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect”. We don’t waste our time thinking that we won’t ever be perfect, or that we won’t make it, nor do we resign ourselves to our imperfections; instead we take our life one day at a time, knowing our meaning and purpose is found in and through the Lord Himself and we continue to progress day by day. We make each and every “resolution” to be better with joy. This means even when we miss the mark or don’t quite succeed or even when we fail, we must remember we do what we do for the Lord and not to be exceedingly hard on ourselves. Failure is only a terrible thing when we learn nothing from it, and it is only an end when we let it be a sign for us to quit. That’s not a Christian attitude or approach to things.
We live in hope and we look for role models; people who help us by their example. Today, we celebrate the great Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, our Mother in faith! Often times when we focus on the highly theological titles of Our Lady, Mother of God; we forget that this is a fully human woman, capable of sin (though she did not) capable of being wrong as she might have been from time to time, not all knowing in all things (and had to have faith and trust in God’s Providence too). Reflection on the Scriptures teach us that. I don’t say these things to diminish our Lady who holds the highest honour of any fully human person (Jesus is fully human and fully Divine). Instead, it’s to point out that this fully alive, fully human woman, who was given arguably the greatest role in human history; to bring to life God’s Son and through Him salvation; she too surely made resolutions in her life. She surely made many, because it would be unrealistic to believe that she didn’t grow and mature, that she didn’t deepen in her own faith and understanding of what was taking place through her, because we know she did. She must have made the resolve to become a better and greater instrument for the Lord day by day throughout her life. We mustn’t look at Mary as a role model in a one-dimensional way, as simply a stoic image of greatness. We look at her in a multi-dimensional way as a complete person, a complex person as all of us are. If we do that, we will draw ever closer to her. If we do that, we realize that what other Christians and people of other faiths don’t see about us, but what might be edifying for them if they did. That we love, honour and respect Mary because in addition to what she did for us by bringing the Incarnate Son of God into the world we live in – worthy of honour itself. Is the model she provides us with, by her own very life! She is a role model for us, she embodies what we as Christians seek in life; she walked the walk day by day.
My sisters and brothers in Christ, let’s consider our own relationship with Mary, and may she always play an important role in our own lives – may we ask for her to pray for us, and to give us strength as we resolve to be the best Christians we can be. May God bless you.