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home : bishop : columns

1/4/2018 9:00:00 AM
God-reset: All it takes is a 'yes'
'Here's a good New Year's resolution: Out those useless idols. Name them and toss them into the garbage where they belong! Dump everything you do not want or need that wants to invade your peace this year into your 2017 out-basket.'

What will 2018 be like? A lot of unpredictables, to be sure: the weather, the economy, health, politics, family fortunes -- you name them.

Yet, the usual suspects are already making predictions, to satisfy their needs and to satisfy those who need to believe them. Who doesn't want 2018 to be their best one yet? Who isn't wishing this for those we love?

Fortunately -- and not by chance -- we have a choice. Faith is the wind that sets our ship to sail freely, without getting marooned in the port of unanswered calls, from the likes of "A Train Called Love," "A Streetcar Named Desire" or "A Rocket to the Moon." Poets and playwrights and songwriters have chronicled our passions in such titles for that unreachable star to which we can hitch our dreams and in which we trust to make them come true.

Like fireworks, they dazzle and then fizzle out as quickly as last year's New Year's resolutions.

This year, we want to promise ourselves, will be different. It could be -- and should be! But that all depends on which star we choose to follow.

St. Matthew's narrative (Mt 2:1-12), from which we hear this Sunday, the feast of the Epiphany, recounts the story of the Magi. Call them whom you will -- wise men, magicians or astrologers -- they found God's incarnate presence by following their best intuitions. Unschooled in Scriptural prophecies (it was the Jewish regent Herod who drew for them this connection), they relied on a source of knowledge and inspiration that ultimately draws all seekers of truth to one who alone is truth.

"Who seeks the truth seeks God, whether they know it or not," wrote St. Theresa Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein), who journeyed from her Jewish faith through a pseudo-scientific period of agnosticism, then outright atheism, until she found the goal of her life's quest for meaning in a personal encounter with the Gospel Himself, Jesus Christ.

He spoke to her soul's deepest longings uniquely, like no one else. "This is the truth," she concluded.

Wherever one might be on their spiritual journey, it is actually the truth that is seeking out our hearts. God comes to us! We may not admit to it, but as creatures conceived "in the image and likeness of God," there is in each of us a yearning for heaven, our true and eternal home. We are from God and, as such, our hearts can never rest until they rest in God.

Hungering for our soul's sustenance, we sometimes fall prey to the age-old tempter who wants to feed us the rotten apples of idolatrous palliatives. We are increasingly aware, for example, of addictions such as pornography and pharmaceuticals, which, plague-like, do not respect class distinctions, and destroy relationship among friends, family and community.

Any false god can become an addiction, a false anchor in life, a substitute for the real bread of life who alone can free us to be who we really are. Even work and leisure, worry and pleasure themselves can become toxic obsessions. All of these idols cancerously enslave and consume us, so melding us to themselves that we can no longer imagine life without them and cannot even recognize ourselves anymore.

Here's a good New Year's resolution: Out those useless idols. Name them and toss them into the garbage where they belong! Dump everything you do not want or need that wants to invade your peace this year into your 2017 out-basket.

Easier said than done? What's to lose? They're killing you anyway!

Remember the example of the Magi: people who trusted that star enough to travel far and wide from the harbors where they might have felt safer, but could not find satisfaction.

There's no time like the present for a God-reset. If God is our origin and our future, why wander from His loving embrace and seek solace in horoscopes, fad foods, fair-weather friends and worn-out habits that do not work and never will?

Faith and trust in Jesus will give us all the freedom and confidence that will propel our ship full-sail ahead again, out of the shoals of any depression, skepticism or disillusionment.

The wisdom of the Magi was in following the star of Bethlehem that led them to Him. It will lead us, too. All it takes from us is a "yes," an amen!

(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)





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