Thursday July 19, 2018

Cortez: Blessed endings, new beginnings

AS YEAR 2017 ends, year 2018 begins. Again, it is time for gratitude. And also a time for hope.

We thank God for bringing us this far. The Bible tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

It is easy to say thank you for the things that we’ve desired – a happy family, good health, stable well-paying job, material prosperity, and the like. But how about for the things that have made us so unhappy – family problems, ill health, loss of livelihood, poverty, loss of loved ones, and the like – can we also say thank you?

Not as easily. But St. Paul, in his First Letter to the Thessalonians (Chapter 5, Verse 18), tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Why? Because “all things work for the good of those who love God and who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God can always “make rivers flow on barren heights, just as he can turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs” (Isaiah 41:18). Whenever we experience difficulties or hardships in life, let us hold on the promises of the Lord and realize that the best is yet to come. God will have the final say in everything.

Facing the brand new year, we also place our hope in the same God. God is faithful and will always be a good Father to us, his children, giving us not necessarily what we want, but what we need in the light of eternity. Like Maryin this Sunday’s gospel (Luke 2:16-21), may we keep and reflect in our heart everything that was told about Jesus – our Immanuel, the God who is always with us.

Jesus’ words will see us through this New Year, for as the gospel acclamation (Hebrews 1:1-2) states, “In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son.” Because of him, whatever problems may come our way, we can rest on the assurance that we are no longer slaves but sons, and therefore, heirs through God (see Second Reading; Galatians 4:4-7).

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? (Romans 8:31-32).

This New Year, may we then bless each other with the blessing God himself taught: “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

A Blessed New Year to one and all.