By Fr. John Abdalah
The coming of the New Year is often a time of reﬂection, and, this year, folks seem more reﬂective than ever. This year, I think that reﬂective may even mean anxious. Perhaps this anxiety is related to economic uncertainty, to our being bombarded with so much information from everywhere, to hostilities and frustrations around the world, to America’s realization that the world is not receptive to all of our ideals and standards, to our inability to assuage all of the suffering we see around us and around the globe, and to bad news reported from everywhere. Then again, perhaps our anxiety is more about our search for meaning in a world that doesn’t seek God any longer. Not only does our society not seek God, but Christians are ridiculed as silly, old fashioned, non-thinkers! It seems that, almost overnight, our ideals as a culture have changed and, outside of shopping and santas, there isn’t much space for Christian faith and truth. Eastern mysticisms are the place of choice for “feel-goods,” and truth is an old-fashioned concept that has all but been abandoned by modern humanity.
In the Orthodox Church, Truth is not a what, but a Who. The Word of God took on ﬂesh so that we could come to share His life. The message of Christ cannot be reduced to doing nice things and getting along with each other. Christ hung on the cross so that He could share in our lives and in our deaths, and in so sharing, join us to Himself. The Christian message of who we are and Who Truth is cannot be reduced to some feelings. The Word of God took on ﬂesh for us to share His life with us, and for us really to be His people. Meaning in life comes not from a feeling; rather, it comes from our relationship with God, and the relationship that gives us access to God is in the person of Jesus Christ, the God-man. We know God and God knows us, by our being in relationship with Him. Like all other relationships, a relationship with God requires time and effort.
To be honest, I am not very anxious about the New Year. I know what God has accomplished for us and I have conﬁdence in His mercy and love. He will do what is best for me, in spite of me. Here I am not talking about salvation – I will leave that up to God. I am not assured that I won’t suffer – that is dependent on those around me, my own poor decisions, and the unfolding of my genes. I am not anxious, because I have come to understand that God is good and that sufferings and pains do come to an end sometime. But the things that count, that give meaning to life and are eternal, are all accomplished by Christ, and He brings them to us.
I write this to comfort those who are reﬂective and anxious at this time of year. This year, like every year, this day, like every day, is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!