In the Gospel of Luke, after he had been tempted by the devil, Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth, and read the words of Isaiah, “I have come to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord”! For the year ahead, I wish to give two points that will guarantee the reader of a year of peace, rejoicing and delight in 2017.
Twenty two years ago, in January, 1995, I lived at the Center for Biblical Studies, 41 Via Dolorosa (The Sorrowful Way). What a thrill to reside on the Way of the Cross! Then one day the thought came, I have been living on the Via Dolorosa from my first moment of birth! At that time (July 12, 1919), I arrived in this world with a physical body – open to sickness and pain, with a mind and heart so sensitive to the unloving actions of others. Soon enough, I discovered that original sin made me tend towards evil, with the forces of light battling the powers of darkness within my spirit every day.
Everyone lives on the Via Dolorosa since we all have the same weakened human nature. Why should we be surprised that sufferings and pain come so often into our lives?
Point Number 1 for 2017 – Refuse to focus all our thinking on our personal crosses! When inclined to dwell on these heartaches and physical handicaps, instead train ourselves to turn to matters in the world around us. Amazingly simple! The less time we give to thinking of our own crosses, the more energy and consideration we have to pour out on the world about us. As never before, we discover the simple joys of living . . . the first cup of coffee in the morning, the excitement of a good book, interest in the lives of others, a walk in the snow . . . a thousand delights await us.
Point Number 2 for 2017 – Take one day at a time! When I was in Jerusalem in 1995, in order to reach my room on the 3rd level, I would take an elevator up to the 2nd level, and then would have to climb a steep set of 23 stairs on the outside of the building the rest of the way. The angle of the stairs reminded me of a ladder leaning against a tall wall. To avoid a heart attack, I would go up three stairs, stop and pray a Hail Mary as I looked at the beautiful Jerusalem sky. At the top, I arrived refreshed because of these eight stops. The lesson learned was that living in the past, the future and the day at hand all at once won’t work. Take life one step at a time.
Have confidence in yourself and make 2017, a year acceptable to our Lord. Focus on others, while living in the present. Enjoy the simple pleasures of life!
Fr. George Mc Kenna
On a dark, cold night in Bethlehem of Judea, some 2000 years ago, a Holy child left the peace and happiness of Heaven to be nourished in His mother’s womb, to be born of the Virgin Mary. In winter it is cold in this holy town.
We call the Infant, the Child of Light, because He came to bring Light to the dark and despairing world. On that first Christmas night, His Light filled the stable at Bethlehem and then spread to the whole world.
We, His followers, are called children of Light because we have taken this Child into our hearts to be loved and cherished. We need never to walk in darkness.
This weekend we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord – the three Magi, visiting Mary and Joseph, and the newborn Christ Child. Infants die quickly if not shown lots of love through the touching, hugging, and kissing – a proven fact. If we don’t hold the Holy Child closely to ourselves, this Christ could die on us in our hearts.
As we stand back and look at the holy scenes in our Christmas cards, our churches, our nativity sets – we must take up this Infant to embrace Him in love and whisper to Him our joys, our sorrows, our hopes and our dreams. In past I have written how I have taken towels, bunched them together and carried them around with me – as a reminder of the Christ Child: pure, peaceful, loving.
The days are still cold and dark – but each day brings with it more light. Carry Christ with you in the coming days in your thoughts, your words and your actions. Bring His Love and His peace to all those you meet. Be the Light – Jesus’ Light – to the world around you!
Fr. George Mc Kenna