New Year’s Day is an excellent time for reflection in the past and making new resolutions. But a skin-deep reflection is not enough. Our lives are surrounded by mystery and the chief purpose of all our reflecting is to find God in all things. After Moses’ sojourn in the desert over 40 years, he heard the Lord saying to him, ‘do not be afraid… I have led you, as a man carries a child, all along the way to this place.’ Hopefully, as we look back over the past year we too can see the finger of God in our lives.
Doris Klein has written a poem called ‘Risk the Sacred Journey’. She speaks of life as a journey of faith where we sometimes walk in wonder and awe but at other times in a flood of fear. Her key point, however, is her realisation that God is always with her as a grace-full presence. This is the story of Mary, whose feast we celebrate today. She had her moments of wonder and awe like at the Annunciation or the birth of Jesus. But she had her dark moments too as when Jesus went missing and, of course, her standing at the foot of the cross. Her story is an invitation to us to ponder on the meaning of our lives and where God speaks to us, whether in moments of wonder and awe or in times of fear and dread. Here is the first stanza.
Each of us stands at the gate of tomorrow, facing the future.
At times, we have walked in wonder and awe;
at other times, we have moved along in the flood of fear.
Looking back – we may recognize
that amid the joys and struggles of this journey
we have been companioned – by a grace-full Presence
that has held us together and led us on.
The poet then goes on to say that our life’s journey is not simply a matter of punching in the time. It is a Sacred Journey, one that is reverenced and surrounded by Mystery. It is easy to apply this to Mary. Her life was of full of questions. She didn’t understand everything that is happening around her, but as we see in today’s gospel, she treasured all that happened and pondered on it in her heart. Her faith must have been tried on several occasions but she never wavered. She is a model of faith for today when we too are faced with many questions. Pope Francis says: ‘in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. Our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is written down; but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing.’ (Interview 2013).
This is not simply a journey – through a string of days and years.
Rather, this is a Sacred Journey,
one that is reverenced and surrounded by Mystery.
Although we long for someone – to translate the risks of this journey
into logical explanations,
We often find ourselves in the foreign land of faith.
The next verse applies to the New Year. Yes, we have hopes and dreams and resolutions but without the guiding hand of God and God’s immense Love and Energy, all our dreams will come to naught. How much then is God a part of our plans for tomorrow? Remember Mary had to let go of her agenda to accommodate the angel’s message. Do we have the same willingness and capacity? An eagerness to detect God’s will is crucial.
We stand on the edge of our hopes and dreams
and ask in trust to be led and supported
by a Love and Energy much larger than we can imagine.
We ask to walk here in courage and integrity,
as we attempt to discern the voice of God
amid the cacophony of our doubts and fear.
Facing the future is a risk. It is a matter of walking in the foreign land of faith. But we are not alone. We stand clothed in grace and showered with blessing. God will give us signposts on the way, friends to help us etc. But more than all of this is God’s Love which provides us with all we need.
To risk the journey and the face of the future – is simply to walk in faith,
for there are no words – that capture the massive Mystery of God
We stand, clothed in grace and showered with blessing.
at times we see the flecks of light;
at other times we see only the shadows of the silhouette.
But always, both in our knowing and in our unknowing,
we are escorted into tomorrow by Love,
who gives us everything we need.
In discerning God’s ways on our dark road of faith we are privileged today to have Mary who is not only Mother of God and of the Church but our spiritual Mother also. It is fitting then that we celebrate her motherhood at the beginning of a new year. Her willingness to intuit God’s will in confusing times is an encouragement for us all.
Happy New Year
Sunday, 1 January 2017