Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Have you ever been especially angry when driving on the road?
Have you ever cut someone in line at the grocery store?
Have you ever had buyer’s remorse?
Have you ever regretted something, anything, you wish you hadn’t done?
Human beings are not perfect, of course, and as such, the answer to all of the above and much more is a resounding “yes.” We all have our strengths as well as our weaknesses. As Saint Paul affirms so powerfully in his epistle to the Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (3:23) As a result, each of us have our good days and our bad days. Along with those bad days can come regrets and wishing we hadn’t done something.
This could be the reason why New Year’s Resolutions are so popular. There is, after all, something to be said about turning the page on one year and going into the next with a clean slate, a completely fresh start. We often say things to ourselves like “I will go to the gym more often.” We hear statements like “I will be nicer to people around me.” “I will spend more time with my spouse or my family.” Given that there is so much that we regret and wish we could do, New Years resolutions offer us an opportunity to reflect on our mistakes, our shortcomings, and start over, completely forgiven (even if we forget what our resolution was after two weeks…).
Despite how powerful a New Year can feel, the reality is that for each of us as Orthodox Christians, every moment of every day is a new beginning! So much of our faith revolves around just this concept: we are weak, we have shortcomings, we need to be forgiven, and through the sacraments, acts of mercy or generosity, pleading with the Lord or any other number of myriad possibilities that exist for us, we are.
There is a reason that every Sunday, for those of us who are able to make it, the service of Orthros begins with a series of six psalms that talks about how weak and wretched we are as humans and sinners, but by the end of the day we are cleansed! We are renewed! We experience our own “New Year” at the conclusion of every divine liturgy, and every time we pray! Every time we ask for the Lord to help us, we receive what we need and are “wiped clean,” if you will. The reality is, there is never a point where the Lord shuns or condemns, but like any parent who desires nothing more than to be with their children, He patiently waits and invites, and then starts all over with that person.
The Lord knows that our slate is wiped clean each time He touches our life when we ask Him. With this in mind, I would pose another series of questions:
Have we ever felt cleansed after the sacrament of confession?
Have we ever believed we are forgiven after receiving communion?
Have we ever received guidance through prayer when encountering life’s problems?
Have we ever felt renewed when praying a baptism service, and pondering our own?
Do we believe that the Lord knows our weaknesses and heals them?
The answer to all of the above, and much more, is yes, and speaking for myself, I know I need to do it a great deal more often. This is my New Year’s Resolution.
May this New Year bring every blessing from above, and may we always remember that our fresh start is never as far away as it may seem.
Happy New Year! Καλη Χρονια!
With love in Christ,
Father Niko Bekris