A New Year’s resolution – Putting on some weight
By Fr. Jonathan J. Filkins
Well, Christmas Day 2019 is in the rearview mirror. Gone are the frantic errands to run, the gifts to gather and wrap, the relatives to please and gorging at the table. The season is now a bit like a hangover, and the only pending holiday is New Year’s; with not a significant number ducking under the invitation radar as they can take no more celebrating.
Gone too are the seemingly endless efforts which inspired us to spend, participate and consume. What used to begin on the day after Thanksgiving Day, now begins with not-so-subtle traces of the Season as early as Halloween. Dare we anticipate the creation of the onset beginning with the Labor Day weekend? No wonder there is a sense of relief with the cessation of the mandates we have so artfully placed upon ourselves and our fellows.
It is now that time of year, what with the few remaining days of 2019, to look forward to 2020. Intriguingly enough, this upcoming year is also the description of perfect eyesight; as when we have 20/20 vision. In reality, the only clear vision about ourselves is what we have about our rearward path; as in “I can see now what I did wrong, or right. Going forward, I may have a better idea of what to do.” Such is what we see when we look over our shoulders.
The analysis of our behaviors, and the attendant resolves to improve our lives, results in the annual exercise of making resolutions for the next year. With the best of intents, it usually centers around the abstaining of some form of onerous behavior. Tradition holds that the cessation of smoking, or the diminishment of calories, or other similar change, may have some personal impact of betterment. Soon, or so it seems, our resolutions have been excused and our commitments have been justifiably reduced to naught. At least this is the proscribed annual exercise; unusually tinged in futility.
The great failing, of our New Year’s resolutions, is they are all about ourselves. Over and over again, we alone rely upon our resolves to carry them off and, when they fail, we are quite ready to excuse them as have been ill considered, or superfluous to our betterment. It is not so much the tradition of making an imperfect annual resolution, but the substance of the resolution itself. When we rely wholly upon the imperfect, we are destined for a less-than-stellar outcome.
Consider the benefit of not taking anything away at all. Instead, how about putting on some weight? It does not have to be a lot. In truth, it is far less that than the weight of a feather; containing not a single calorie.
Those pesky members of the early Church at Corinth received a second letter from their leader, Saint Paul, which was far more direct than the first. In it they were told,” If any person be in Christ, they are a new creature; behold all things are become new.” This Apostle, as he has done many times, brings to us a clear focus upon what should really be important in our lives. Coming on the cusp of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, this time of year is most apropos to weigh this inestimable gift, to us, and what we are resolved to do to respect and honor this gift.
When Jesus was being interrogated by the Pharisees, he was asked, “What are God’s greatest commandments?” The question was meant to trick our Lord, as any elevation of one seemingly degraded another. Knowing of their trickery, he replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and Great Commandment. The second is like unto it, thou shalt love they neighbor, as thyself.” His response dumfounded his adversaries, as they could find no fault, as the rest he proscribed as being dependent on these two.
Our New Year’s resolutions may find guidance, for real success, here too. Becoming more reverent, less salacious; more charitable, less self-serving; putting “we,” ahead of “I.” Each resolution brings us closer to what God seeks for us, rather than what we seek; even from God.