On a liturgical note: January 2019

By Canon Philip Gillespie

What will my future be? 
I wonder’ 
The question posed by Maria in The Sound of Music lies at the heart of the idea of making a new years resolution – we look into the future but we know that ‘I will indeed help shape the future because given the  joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the coming months, it is ultimately for me, by the grace of God and under His guidance, to respond to the challenges, seize the opportunities, and make the fullest use of the gifts and talents entrusted to me in this new year which opens before us. 

There is a sense in which our New Year’s Day was not 1 January 2019 but 2 December 2018, the Sunday when the Liturgy began afresh with the season of Advent, a season which came to a crescendo with the hopeful and trusting cry of the Church: ‘O come, O come Emmanuel.’ Christmas Day and the Christmas season celebrate and rejoice in the response of God to the heartfelt desire of his people: O Come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel (from the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem). 

It is the coming of Jesus into the world and more specifically into my world, my choices and ways of living which, quite literally, makes all the difference in the world; perhaps this is the real essence and foundation of all evangelisation – to share with others the fact that, having Jesus in my life, makes all the difference, or as Saint Paul puts it: ‘Nothing surpasses the supreme value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ (Philippians 3:8) 

Now that the tinsel and wrapping paper of Christmas Day are all boxed up and tidied away, it is good to reflect on the challenge of the letter to Titus which the Church received at the Mass during the night of Christmas itselfJesus gave Himself for us – to purify a people so that it could be His very own and would have no ambition except to do good.’ (Titus 2:14) 

A challenging text indeedand a good examination of conscience at the end of each day; have I lived this day with no ambition except to do good? And if we are still looking for a new year’s resolution then perhaps St Paul has just helped us out.