St. Augustine, Florida at Christmastime / bob traupman / 2007
When we were preparing for Y2K twenty-one years ago, I dreamed about “A New Humanity for a New Millennium.” So I thought I’d reprise most of last year’s post because it was so positive and we kinda need that positivity this year too, don’t you think?
And I wrote some really positive stuff about us humans, knowing full well we really didn’t warrant it back then.
Can we dust those thoughts off now some twenty-one years later and give them a second look, a second shot . . . ?
. . . . Even though we have failed to live up to the potential of the human family, we nevertheless are called to a deeper faith and hope. The work of Jesus is hardly begun. The task of building a new humanity, partially begun in the first and second millennia, remains the agenda for the third.
As we reach beyond our self-imposed limits of sight, we can look beyond ~ look to the horizon ~ look where we’re headed.
Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin envisioned humanity as evolving toward the “Omega Point,” a point of union of all of creation drawing together in Christ. The Omega Point, Teilhard observes, is the endpoint of the historical process.
Perhaps we can see glimpses of this wonderful and exciting world view in the theology of St. Paul:
“There is no Jew or Greek . . . Christ is everything in all of you” (Col. 3:10).
“Let us profess the truth in love and grow toward the full maturity of Christ the head. Through him the whole body [the world?] grows and with the proper functioning of the members joined firmly together by each supporting ligament, builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16)
Thus, we are part of something larger than ourselves. With each generation, we ARE growing closer to the goal of all humanity ~ complete and utter union with Christ ~ even though we don’t perceive it!
If we keep that in mind as we look forward in hope to 2021, as we climb out of a year still filled with worries about getting covid, cooped up in our homes for weeks-on-end, trying to cope with loneliness, or perhaps reaching out to a friend or relative whose family member has passed, or wondering how to react to the racism that reared its ugly head throughout the summer and has impacted our police communities . . . .we can look upon this process with hope that, despite our failures in love, humanity will one day grow into loving relationship with all there is!
Can you feel it? Can you peer down into the future of humanity and see that we are growing in our ability to love? Or can we only manage to be cynical about all of the devastation that so many humans now create for one another and our planet?
If there is one thing that we can learn in the opening movement of the Third Millennium, it is that we live in the present moment, yet we are connected with a past with all of its achievement and failure, and with connection with a future with all of its hope and uncertainty!
Yes! we must learn to live in the present moment!
The focus of renewing humanity has got to be with renewing ourselves ~ each and every one ~ of having faith in our own growth and hope in our own future. Of realizing that each of us can be transformed again and again into a new person by receiving the grace of transformation that the incarnate and risen Christ extends to us, day in and day out, year in and year out.
Here’s Pope Francis in his New Year’s message this year . . . .
“No peace without a “culture of care”
In his message for the 54th World Day of Peace marked on January 1st, Pope Francis offers the Church’s social doctrine as a “compass” to foster a culture of care for peace in the world.
Pope Francis appeals to the international community and everyone to foster a “culture of care” by advancing on the “path of fraternity, justice and peace between individuals, communities, peoples and nations.”
“There can be no peace without a culture of care.” In other words, we simply need to care for and about one another.
This evening, as I parked my car outside of my local Walmart, I heard a faint voice nearby cry, “I’m hungry.” I new I only had a few bucks in my wallet, but I walked over toward him and asked his first name, which was ‘Joe.'(I thought of St. Joseph as Pope Francis has declared 2021 a special year in honor of St. Joseph and all fathers.) And he was cold, I could tell; I asked him to tell me a little about what was happening, and then I gave him a little something. (I just had enough money to get what I needed in the store.) When I came out of the store, he was still there; I inquired what the first initial of his last name was so I could add him to my Evening Prayer list and prayed for all the other homeless folk I’ve met and are on my list as I drove home . . . .
Established by Pope St. Paul VI in 1967, the first World Day of Peace was observed on January 1st,1968.
Pope Francis said that “massive Covid-19 health crisis” has aggravated interrelated crises like climate, food, the economy and migration, causing great sorrow and suffering to many. He makes it an occasion to appeal to political leaders and the private sector to spare no effort to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines and to the essential technologies needed to care for the sick, the poor and those who are most vulnerable.
Alongside the pandemic, the Pope also notes a surge in various forms of nationalism, racism, hatred (xenophobia) and wars and conflicts that bring only death and destruction in their wake. These and other events of 2020, he says, have underscored the importance of caring for one another and for creation in our efforts to build a more fraternal society. Hence, “A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace” is a “way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.”
The Holy Father traces the evolution of the Church’s Culture of Care from the first book of the Bible, to Jesus, through the early Church down to our times.
After the creation of the world, God entrusts it to Adam to “till it and keep it”. Cain’s response to God – “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – after killing his brother, Abel, is a reminder that all of us are keepers of one another.
God’s protection of Cain, despite his crime, confirms the inviolable dignity of the person created in God’s image and likeness. Later, the institution of the Sabbath aimed to restore the social order and concern for the poor, while the Jubilee year provided a respite for the land, slaves and those in debt. All this, the Pope says, shows that “everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationship with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.”
The Christian concept of the person, the Pope says, fosters the pursuit of a fully human development. “Person always signifies relationship, not individualism;it affirms inclusion, not exclusion; unique and inviolable dignity, not exploitation.” “Each human person is an end in himself or herself, and never simply a means to be valued only for his or her usefulness.”
According to the “compass” of social principles of the Church, every aspect of social, political and economic life achieves its fullest end when placed at the service of the common good, which allows people to reach their fulfilment more fully and easily.
This highlights the need to listen to the cry of our brothers and sisters in need and the cry of the earth our common and care for them.
“A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be authentic if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings,” the Pope says, citing his encyclical.
“Peace, justice and care for creation are three inherently connected questions, which cannot be separated.”
In the face of our throw-away culture, with its growing inequalities both within and between nations, Pope Francis urges government leaders, and those of international organizations, business leaders, scientists, communicators and educators, to take up the principles of the Church’s social doctrine as a “compass”. It is capable of pointing out a common direction and ensuring “a more humane future” in the process of globalization
In this regard, the Pope calls for resources spent on arms, especially nuclear weapons, to be used for priorities such safety of individuals, the promotion of peace and integral human development, the fight against poverty, and the provision of health care. He says it would be a courageous decision to “establish a ‘Global Fund’ with the money spent on weapons and other military expenditures, in order to permanently eliminate hunger and contribute to the development of the poorest countries!”
This begins in the family where we learn how to live and relate to others in a spirit of mutual respect. Schools and universities, the communications media, as also religions and religious leaders are called to pass on a system of values based on the recognition of the dignity of each person, each linguistic, ethnic and religious community and each people.
Pope Francis concludes his message, urging “We never yield to the temptation to disregard others, especially those in greatest need, and to look the other way.” “Instead, may we strive daily, in concrete and practical ways, to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another.”
And now my prayer . . .
Where are we, this New Year’s Day 2021, Lord?
Are we better or worse off than we were last year?
And what will 2021 bring for us?
Are we prepared for whatever it will bring?
Do we realize that . . . . “You never know . . . what the next minute will bring?”
Give us hope, Lord, this New Year’s Day.
A realistic hope that we might be a little kinder toward one another,
a little less self-centered,
a little more willing to go the extra mile for someone, even ~ or especially ~ a stranger.
Give us the strength to be ready for whatever may come . . .
~ in the next Congress and Administration?
~ or if the economy would get better or worse
~ if we lose our job or gain some success,
~ if we meet the girl of our dreams.
Give us the grace to be truly thankful ~ truly repentant ~ truly humble when we wake up this New Year’s morning.
This is my prayer, Lord, for me, for my friends, for our country, for our world.
This New Year’s morning may we pray as St. Francis taught us . . .
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen!
May it be so! may it be so for each of us and our country and the whole world!
Now here’s the great song “Let there be peace on earth”. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. Click here.
And here are today’s Mass readings for the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. Click here.
A Happy and Blessed New Year, to you and your family! And stay safe!