This article was inspired by Joseph Gnehm’s piece on Romans. These past few months I have found myself both thinking and writing on the intellectual side of theology. While I am grateful for what I have learned, given this article’s place on Christmas, I want to take a page from Gnehm’s book and just appreciate Christ.
I am truly grateful for 2020. I know this is not the apt thing to say for many people. In many ways 2020 has been an extremely difficult, challenging, and unforeseen year. Between a rise in political/racial tension, a pandemic, and an economic downturn there are many reasons to lament this year. However there is a reason for celebration: Jesus.
While this may sound cliché that doesn’t make it any less true. Twenty-twenty is a year of our lives that we share together. For some it is their first year in life and for others their last. Every year, day, and moment is a gift from God to us.
“Every moment of our life has a purpose, that every action of ours, no matter how dull or routine or trivial it may seem in itself, has a dignity and a worth beyond human understanding… For it means that no moment can be wasted, no opportunity missed, since each has a purpose in man’s life, each has a purpose in God’s plan. Think of your day, today or yesterday. Think of the work you did, the people you met, moment by moment. What did it mean to you—and might it have meant for God? Is the question too simple to answer, or are we just afraid to ask it for fear of the answer we must give?” – Fr. Walter Ciszek, He Leadeth Me
I understand that there is hardship. For me this year meant online family gatherings, almost eight months without seeing Cherry (my girlfriend), cancelled plans, postponed events, and an online masters program that was supposed to be in person. Christmas this year may look different for you than it did in previous years. For many families this time of coming together is swarmed with worry and anxiety over COVID-19, both in transmission and attendant politics. For many it also means church online during this sacred season. Lamentation is good when suffering happens, but the purpose of lamentation is not stagnation in sorrow but giving yourself the intentional time to be sad so that you can move forward.
On a practical level it is important to make the most of this time and see opportunity where others see failure. This year has meant flexibility for my schedule and given me time to do more. It has meant quality time with my family and almost a month with Cherry which would have been impossible should my work/masters program have been in person. Most importantly it has brought a renewal to my prayer life where I have begun (still working on it) to meditate and pray the Rosary daily.
Beyond this, at the time where we celebrate Christ’s birth, I am reminded that God became man to live as we do. I remember God walks with me in my trials and joy and his grace propels me to inspire others to know his immense love for us. Twenty-twenty is a gift God has given to us: every breath we take should remind us of this, and that is enough reason to be grateful for it!
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade
on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.” –Psalm 121