First Down (January 7, 2018)

Dear Friends,

Time just flies by. I think we have all said that in our lives. For me, the year 2000 celebration seems just like yesterday, and yet, it is nearing two decades away from that amazing milestone. Time just keeps marching on.

For us in Arizona, January might mean that next month pitchers and catchers report for baseball spring training. The Valley will be filled with team players and fans talking about the hope of a new season. Even if last year was not a good year, even if there have been many not so good years in a row, players and fans use words that describe hope, new beginning, new people, new day and miracles do happen. There is a sense of hope for something good to happen and for many that is what makes that time of year special.

I hope from the mouths of Christians there are words that also speak of hope, new beginning, renewal, new day, new approach and miracles do happen. It is the beginning of another calendar year. We can reflect on this past year, and we have heard many words to describe 2017. Some might say: it was a great year, a good year, glad we made it through; it was not a good year; it was a difficult year; or, I hope next year is better. Whatever words that have been uttered, we need to capture that hope that players and fans from baseball offer to us as a model.

No day is a guarantee, and it is not good for Christians to live with an expectation that we are owed another day. Each day needs to be seen as a gift freely given to us by God. To see each day, each moment as a gift from God might help our attitude towards our outlook at life and towards people in general. The unreflective expectation never satisfies, it only makes us stressed because one feels entitled. When life is not taken for granted, it can be received with joy or seen as a gift. When knowing our true purpose on earth, we can live in real hope, not one based on wishful thinking.

What have we learned from 2017? What needs to be healed or let go? What blessings happened to us from last year? Who are the people we lost, the people we gained? What can be different about me in approaching the new year? Can I use words that would help set a tone for those I live with that could bring about hope, renewal, joy and gratitude?

I hope the words that come from our hearts at the beginning of the new year will be much like the spring baseball players and fans. This will be a great year, a new energy, a new mindset, and there might even be a miracle this year?

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric