Like most people, I find myself making one or two New Year’s resolutions—usually associated around some form of self-improvement (diet and exercise). Some I keep; others I’m less successful at keeping. While New Year’s Day is about new beginnings, there is an important distinction to be made between our approach to the new liturgical year that has just begun and the New Year on our secular calendar. Ultimately, New Year’s resolutions are about something that we decide to do; it is our initiative and relies upon our own discipline and strength of will. The “new beginnings” that our liturgical year speaks of (including the “resolutions” we will soon be making for Lent in just a few short months) are about what God is doing in our lives; it is all about God’s initiative and our receptivity.
This is made clear to us in the Book of Isaiah (43:19), where God says:
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
God does not tell us to do something new but rather calls us to pay attention to what it is that God is doing and to respond accordingly. Our role is always to receive and to pay attention to what we can do to remove obstacles to our receptivity and to improve our receptivity. Like a wide receiver in football who goes out to receive a pass, we must do what we can to keep our eye on the quarterback, to run the route he has mapped out for us, and to elude our opponent in order to stay in the clear so that we can receive.
As we enter into this New Year in our secular calendar and continue to enter into the new year of our liturgical calendar, may we pay greater attention to the new beginnings that God is offering to us, and may we strive to be more receptive to those graces!
What new beginning is God inviting you to receive as the New Year begins?