Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New Year’s Resolutions

This year I told myself that I would not make any new year’s resolutions. Actually, I have never put much stock in the notion of new year’s resolutions. Nevertheless, this year I actually contemplated the meaninglessness of such resolutions and “resolved” not to make new year’s resolutions.
The funny thing is that even this “resolution” is one that I have been unable to keep.

I find myself continually confronted with my shortcomings, my sinfulness, my need for being set straight. Thus I find myself saying over and over again, “I need to stop this or that. I need to begin so and so.”

This is an ongoing battle. This is why the Holy Scriptures direct us away from our own resolve and our own efforts to the one who always fulfills His promises. The Scriptures direct us not to rely upon our own reason and strength so that we turn in faith to what God has fulfilled for us in Christ crucified. To this end God has provided for us specific means by which we are turned back to Him in faith. First is the preaching of His Word, which we also are informed is Jesus. This is why St. Paul writes to the Corinthians that he judged to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The second means of faith is holy Baptism, where God joins us into Christ and all that He accomplished for us by His suffering, death, and resurrection. Then, bringing us to renewal of the unity of this faith He has provided the Sacrament of His Holy Communion.

Through these God takes the burden from us entirely so that we do not need to resolve anything for ourselves. Through these God removes the fear of failure, for through these He joins us to His perfect fulfilment of all righteousness. Since He has already accomplished this for us, we have nothing left to resolve to do for ourselves. Rather, we are set free to live in His holiness. We are free to rejoice in His goodness. We are free to bask in His love, which fills us and overflows to those whom we therefore love even as God loves us.

Nevertheless, I know that throughout this day and the coming year I will continue to say, “I really need to do this and to stop doing that.”

The truth can be almost comical at times. For the truth reveals that the more that I tell myself that I need to change, the more that I focus upon what I should do or stop doing, the more that I do what I should not do and the more that I fail to do what I should be doing. The very fact that I focus upon what is wrong increases my temptation. St. Paul summed up the seeking of right living in Rom 13:8-10:

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Yet even this is something that I cannot do by my own resolve. Love is of God as St. John tells us over and over in his epistle. If we want to be loving, the place to look is not to ourselves and our desire to be loving, but to God. When we look to Him and see what He has done for us in Christ, then we truly know love and live in love.

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