By Fr. Jake Greiner
Though I do not want to wish away the remaining days of the Advent season before the celebration of Christmas, I am struck by the fact that 2015 is quickly coming to a close. I can say with complete honesty that this year has not gone as I would have planned.
I weigh more now than I weighed in 2014. I have the best cooks in my parishes, so I believe that I could blame God for the weight gain since he sent me to these wonderful people a year and a half ago. However, my dear parishioners did not prevent me from working out when I was feeling lazy and they are not responsible for the late-night snacking. In the end, the additional weight is on me, both literally and figuratively.
Besides this one health measure, there were other things I let slide in this past year. If these realities are going to change, I have to start making preparations for addressing these challenges now, not two days before the start of the New Year. Therefore, I have begun to pray about my New Year resolutions during the Advent season, so I could let the Holy Spirit into this process. I am not going to bore you with what I believe the Lord wants me to work on in 2016, but I believe that two insights from my prayer might be of assistance to you if you want to work on your New Year resolution.
The first insight was to make spiritual resolutions a top priority. If you have not prayed enough in 2015, missed Mass, have not given enough of your time, talent and treasure to the church or others, or simply did not do enough for your spiritual life and relationship with God, find ways to addresses these realities. These should be your top resolutions. Why? So many things remain outside of our control and this includes our lives. I believe that 2015 was a year when the world became more fearful and uncertain. This has affected us more than we probably even want to admit. What is going to help us more in addressing the uncontrollable in our lives than our relationship with God? Our spiritual lives will help us to accept those aspects of our lives that are out of our control so that we have more courage, energy, patience and peace in addressing those realities that are in our control.
The second insight is that all of us need to have one resolution that focuses on our family — those who are related to us by blood and those who are family by friendship. I have been struck in this Advent season by the importance of Mary and Joseph in the life of Jesus immediately following his birth and into his young life. Jesus was born as the Son of God, but our Messiah found help through others in accomplishing his salvific mission. If Jesus needed a family, this means we need a family. In the new year we need to develop and nurture those family members God has given to us in our lives for well-being. If you count yourself among those who feel as if you have no family, I have a New Year Resolution for you: Find one! There is a Catholic church that wants to welcome you into their family, and through some patience, you will find a home that will help and nurture you.
May God bless our diocese abundantly in this Year of Mercy and in this year of grace!
(Fr. Jake Greiner is pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville and Sacred Heart Parish in Melcher.)