New year non-resolutions
Starting a new year always kindles in us new hopes. We just might get things right this time! So we make the same resolutions as last year, trusting that yearning within us that never says die.
Resolutions are worth making, but on one condition: forget about success! Reality will catch up with us and our weakness soon demolishes our best intentions. We need to concentrate on simple faithfulness. That means: accepting our failures without giving up on the goodness and beauty we love.
The problem with resolutions is when they become destinations of success or accomplishment. The power of resolutions is when they become a day-to-day struggle, turning our very failures into stepping stones to continue the journey.
What destroys hope is not our failures but our own pride in wanting to eliminate them. The only real success is when we realise that the journey itself is the destination. This year let us rejoice in walking in little steps, one at a time, not aiming to succeed or get anywhere, but simply letting each step guide and strengthen us towards the one that follows.
Success is the way of the world. Faithfulness is the way of God. For the world, weakness and littleness are the opposite of greatness, whereas for God, they are real greatness.
Whatever is big and successful starts by impressing us but ends in crushing us. Whatever is small and weak makes us fall in love with it. Was this why God could only come to meet us in smallness and fragility? He does not want to impress, frighten or subdue us by His greatness. He wants us to fall in love with his smallness and fragility.
Before dreaming of our successes, real or imagined, let us welcome His true greatness in loving our littleness to the point of embracing it. This is the great news of Christmas.
Let us embark on a New Year with a renewed appreciation of the little steps we can take to walk the longest of journeys, the little drops of love that can purify an ocean of hatred.
Watching our world disintegrating in violence, injustice, corruption, greed and pollution may drive us to the edge of despair. Worldly power seems just as helpless and ineffective to stop this Armageddon as our resolutions to turn us into the good people we dream of becoming.
How can we dare hope to put some order in this chaos? God seems to be conspicuous by His absence while humanity seems trapped in a vicious circle of helplessness. Could we start by listening to the frail voice within us? Could we make a little act of faith in God’s love within us and be that little drop?
Yes, all too often we cannot make a difference to the pain people are suffering. But their pain can make us different. Hope for humanity is when a single child’s pain becomes our pain. We do not have an answer for this evil. We need to become ourselves the answer.
This is God’s way. Jesus’ way. He also seemed unable to stop his butchers’ ways. He simply submitted to their butchery in the incredible act of faith that his killers may one day discover the seed of life-giving goodness sown within them too.
Only God is capable of such faith in human beings. In our poor, little ways, we need to keep witnessing to this incredible and impossible act of faith. One day, humanity will be healed and made whole. Let us become little children like our God-child, putting all our love in our little acts of love.
One day, our eyes will open, our minds will understand, our hearts will embrace the One whose love knows no limits and no constraints. In the meantime, God Himself depends on our little acts of love.
Cluster bombs are deadly because of the zillion bits of death they blast into people. Cluster love is life-giving because of the zillion hidden and miniature acts of goodness that can touch and heal the deepest wounds.
Yes, let us make our New Year resolutions remembering what Mother Teresa used to say: “God does not need us to succeed, but only to be faithful”.
A big thank you for all those sharing the journey, remaining small people, accomplishing so much by so little.
Happy New Year!
Fr Paul Chetcuti is a member of the Society of Jesus.