Gone are the days that filled the year 2018 with what it was. Obviously, to make space for the new one: 2019! Oh! You! The New Year! You are the most welcomed!
A new year draws in many prospects. Some might want to change some sort of behaviour because, for all its intents and purposes, they might be just fed up with it. After all, who wants to keep being a slave, to say the least, of an unfruitful way of being? As years are rolling by, each and every one of us, irrespective of his and her belief or unbelief, is realising how life is short. How it goes by in a minute or, yes, in a second. Thus, the coming of a new year finds us open to acknowledge this sacrosanct fact. Whether we accept it or not, one day, may be this year (hope not!), we have to leave this world once and for all.
In order not to distract ourselves from this painful reality loads of authors made it sure that they remind us of it. For instance, one such writer is certainly Elizabeth Wurtzel. This great American writer and journalist, known for publishing her best-selling memoir which is entitled Prozac Nation at the young age of 26, observes: “The shortness of life, I keep saying, makes everything seem pointless when I think about the longness of death. When I look ahead, all I can see is my final demise. And they say, But maybe not for seventy or eighty years. And I say, Maybe you, but me, I’m already gone”.
Wurtzel’s preoccupation that life practically vanishes is all the more justified. However, as real as it can be, one cannot simply remain entangled in it. Life has to take its own course. How many people before her and us had the same feelings nurtured by Wurtzel! Nevertheless, voluntarily or not, they had to bow down to the rule of time. Having said that, just because life passes so quickly one cannot blindly subscribe to a life totally lived for its passing pleasures. Or, much more, to the abundance of what one may possess.
What comes to my mind is a very interesting pericope taken from Luke’s gospel. Here Jesus recounts the story of a rich man whose land brought him forth plentifully. Seeing all this richness in front of his very eyes instead of coming to his senses and use this wealth to help others and, by thus doing, he also helps himself, this foolish man wanted to have all this richness for himself. His narcissistic attitude led him to reason incredibly this way: I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry (Luke 12:18-19). How immediate was God’s reply, be it in his conscience or through other life events that sorrowfully constrained him to see the harsh reality that was awaiting him around the corner! `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ (Luke 12:20). Greed blinded and, actually, killed this man’s body and spirit!
In his homily in the last midnight mass Pope Francis couldn’t help it but openly denouncing such a miserable way of living. “In our day, for many people, life’s meaning is found in possessing, in having an excess of material objects. An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive.”
So what we are to do in front of this hurtful situation? Let us take a beneficial clue from Seneca the Younger who said: “Life is long if you know how to use it”. Yes! Life is long if, first and foremost, I redeem it from its horizontal perspective and let the vertical horizon dawns on it. If I want to live a fruitful life let me go back to its life-giving roots, namely prayer! When discussing the aim of the Christian life, one of the most famous Russian saints in the Eastern Orthodox Christianity and author of the great mystical writing On the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, St. Seraphim of Sarov, writes: “Prayer is always possible for everyone, rich and poor, noble and humble, strong and weak, healthy and sick, righteous and sinful”.
And, if prayer, according to Mother Teresa, is putting ourselves in the hands of God, at His disposition, specifically by listening to His deep voice within our heart, He will surely lead us to the suffering ones. Hence, prayer reminds us of whom we really are: brother and sisters!
Why not start to live this year fruitfully by praying, by letting God leading me to those who need my help? What a new beginning this is for my entire life thanks to 2019!