Today the Church celebrates its New Year’s Eve–tomorrow is the first day of Advent. In many ways this new year begins like those before, for we wait amidst questions. We look for answers to the questions than gnaw at our dry bones, questions as to how these bones might live–how they might live amidst uncertainty and mourning, amidst fear and pain. We look for answers for how these bones might continue in hope, and utter with sincerity the final words of Revelation, Come, Lord Jesus, come and make all things new. We look for answers for how these bones might echo these words and have the courage to say, make me new.
In a 1964 address to students at the University of Munich, Joseph Ratzinger reminds:
It is Advent. All our answers remain fragmentary. The first thing to accept is, ever and again this reality of an enduring Advent. If we do that, we shall begin to realize that the borderline between “before Christ” and “after Christ” does not run through historical time… it runs through our hearts. Insofar as we are living on a basis of selfishness, of egoism, then even today we are “before Christ.” But in this time of Advent, let us ask the Lord to grant that we may live less and less “before Christ,” and certainly not “after Christ” but truly with Christ and in Christ: with him who is indeed Christ yesterday, today and forever.
Christ’s lordship is evident in his humility and his divinity in his power to love. And so we pray that we, too, might be refashioned in his images and likeness. May this year be one in which we might recognize the presence of Christ within our own hearts, a presence who urges us toward compassion and justice that we might join with him and make all things new.
Happy New Year to all.
Andrew Staron is an assistant professor of theology at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia