January 1st is known as “The Day of Peace” and since 1968, Popes have issued many documents calling for peace. Pope Francis’ theme for the 55th World Day of Peace 2022 is: “Dialogue between generations, education, and work – tools for building lasting peace.”
The Pope called for a new relationship between the young and elderly, to address the problems of isolation heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that technological and economic development has created a division between generations, and our current crises shows the urgent need for an inter-generational partnership.
Pope Francis said, “Young people need the wisdom and experience of the elderly, while those who are older need the support, affection, creativity, and dynamism of the young.” When young people make a greater investment in education, accompanied by the promotion of “a culture of care” and “integral human development,” it will be able “to break down barriers and build bridges” and “shape free and responsible people.”
The Pope concluded his message by saying that the COVID-19 pandemic “has disrupted human relationships, economic opportunities and exacerbated inequalities.” The Holy Father’s document calls us to place the human person “at the centre of all political, social and economic activity.” Therefore, the Church and leaders of the world should “walk together with courage and creativity on the path of intergenerational dialogue, education and work.”
As we look ahead into the New Year 2022, we want to be fully committed to living life reverently and faithfully, in a more directed way. What would we like to undertake for this New Year and the rest of our lives? What are the specific areas that we want to see ourselves grow, mentally, physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually? As we move along the year, we may face a lot of challenges that may be discouraging or unachievable.
However, we must be ready to have God in our lives – to remove negative thoughts from us. These thoughts include fear, greed, stubbornness, jealously, lust, dishonesty, egoism, pride and anger. They grab hold of our lives, and we find it hard to let go. In the process of removing our negative characteristics many of us may fail because change is difficult.
We should look at each negative character and transform them into something meaningful so that we become a more integrated and wholistic person. We must remember to keep working on peeling away layer after layer, all our negative characteristics. During this process, we should take courage to build a healthier character by putting effort into our spiritual life. God will remove every defective trait and steer us in a better direction.
Let’s make up our minds and hearts to build our faith life in this coming new year and make every effort to keep our faith strong and alive. The only way to strengthen our faith is to communicate with God through prayer, celebration of the sacraments especially in the Eucharist, and to continuously work in the right way of life.
At the same time, we must be determined to build relationships within our family and in our parish community. Our relationships and friendships are imperfect when it comes to face-to-face contact, and in today’s busy world it can be tough for families and parish communities to find time together and to give one another attention. We may find it difficult to dine together when celebrating holidays, get involved in the Church activities or go out together. However, it is important to keep our bond healthy, to share all our experiences with one another and always have an open and honest communication platform, rather than tear each other apart and create conflict.
Today, our mother Church celebrates the “Feast of Mary the Mother of God” which is a very appropriate way to begin a new year. This celebration reminds us that the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is our heavenly mother. The Gospel today presents Mary to us as a model of that new life in Christ. We are all called to pray that God may bless each family this New Year with His peace and joy, and we in turn share his peace and joy with one another.
Today’s readings of the New Year speak of God’s special blessings. The first reading from the Book of Numbers (6: 22-27) provides us with showers of special blessings of the Lord for a successful New Year.
- The Lord will bless you and keep you safe!
- The Lord will let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you!
- The Lord will look upon you kindly and give you peace!
May the Lord fill our hearts with his peace and joy today and throughout this New Year 2022. Wishing you all a very blessed and peaceful New Year! Mary, Mother of God, grant her maternal care and protection from all distress.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy