We all need a New Year. We all need to begin again. That is why these first weeks of 2012 are so important. We can become cynical and say that in the past we have made many New Year’s resolutions and we have not kept them. But, as Christians, such thoughts must never fill our minds.
A Christian, believing in the Resurrection of the Lord, is always filled with hope and a belief in a better future. We are loved by God and we know that he believes in us and hopes in us, we never give-in to the old ways or believe that anyone or any situation is beyond hope.
Reflecting on our Life at the Start of the Year
We always look to the future with confidence because we trust in the loving mercy of Jesus and trust in him. Because we have this hope, we can face the present. It is a good thing during these opening weeks of the new year to look at our lives and to see how we can improve them and this is particularly true in the area of our spiritual life.
In the Diary, Our Blessed Lord asked St. Faustina, “Today, bring to Me souls who have become lukewarm and immerse them in the abyss of My Mercy”.(Diary 1228) In the same passage of the Diary, Jesus says that such lukewarm souls wound his heart most painfully.
These words mirror the cry of Our Lord in the Book of Revelation when speaking to the Church in Laodicea. Jesus says, “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:15-16). Why does God cry over such people who have grown lukewarm in their lives? He continues in the Book of Revelations, “For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing’” (Rev 3:17).
When we think we have everything, then we become satisfied and there is no need for God. Only those who are hungry or thirsty will search out the source of food and drink. Those who think they have everything seek for nothing. Ultimately, when we stop seeking, we lose sight of God. This is precisely what is wrong in our modern secular society. We are told that we can buy our satisfaction. That life is all about ‘me’ having the ability to put out my hand and grab what I want, and then I will find contentment. But, it is our being content that makes Jesus so sick that he wants to spit us out of his mouth.
Searching for God
In the Beatitudes of St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are poor now, blessed are those who are hungry now and blessed are those who weep now” but he also said, “Woe to you rich now, woe to you who are full now and woe to you who are happy now”. (Lk 6:20-26) These words may seem strange to us and so they should. It would be dangerous to think that Our Blessed Lord was advocating that poverty, sadness and hunger were good things.
He is not saying that, but what he is warning us against is about becoming too settled now in this world and in the delights of this world. When we think we have everything that we need, we stop looking for more. By more here I don’t mean more material wealth but a rather a deeper goal in life than simply a bigger car. The ultimate “more” we are seeking is God himself.
We are Made for God
As St. Augustine discovered in his life, we are made for God and we cannot rest until we rest in him. God has given us the ability to know and to love. These two desires separate us from all other creatures and life-forms on this planet. God has made us capable of entering into a relationship with others and most specifically Himself. To be fully alive as human begins we must have a loving and truthful relationship with other people and with God. This is the greatest calling of the human person. If we settle for anything less then we are not reaching our true potential.
This is what upsets Jesus most of all. His heart desires that we come to know and love him and if we stop and think that we possess everything and yet do not know and love him, then we are the most unfortunate of people. Again to quote from the Book of Revelation: “Listen! I am standing at the door knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you and you with me”. (Rev 3:20) When we are satisfied and content, we stop listening for the knock of the Lord on the door of our heart. We become closed in on ourselves and we remain comfortable, but the Lord is left outside. That is why the Lord warns us against being comfortable.
Being Lukewarm in our Spiritual Life
This temptation to become lukewarm is particularly dangerous for anyone who is walking the journey of the spiritual life and wishes to take it seriously. We can also arrange our religious lives so as to become comfortable and satisfied. I can fall into the trap of thinking that by going to Holy Mass daily, by receiving Holy Communion regularly, by monthly confession, by saying my daily prayers, I am okay and there is nothing more I need to do or should do.
We can always be more present to these good holy moments in our lives. We must be very wary of becoming content in our spiritual journey. We must never say I have reached the end, I have arrived. Our relationship with the Lord, if it is a true relationship, must be a living relationship. As in all living relationships, it must be deepening and growing all the time. We need to be always listening to the voice of the Lord and responding to his love for us.
We must listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through the Sacred Scriptures, the Holy Church, our spiritual directors and the situations we face each day.
Following St. Faustina’s Example
We see so clearly in the life of St. Faustina, she was never satisfied or content in her search for God. She constantly desired to know the will of God in her life more deeply and to follow it more perfectly. She never gave up and she certainly never became lukewarm.
One of the earliest feasts of the Church each year is the feast of the Epiphany. This celebrates the coming of the Magi to the stable at Bethlehem. But what brought these three wise men from the East? They were seekers. They were not content with the myths and fables of their local religion or philosophy.
They were looking for the true meaning of life. The three Magi discovered the one thing we are all seeking to discover is the true meaning of life and that this is only found in a living relationship with the Babe of Bethlehem.
Seeking God Always
As this New Year begins, be like the three wise men, and seek to know the Lord more deeply in your life. Do not be content where you are now in your spiritual journey, but take the risk and step more deeply into the mystery of Divine Mercy.
What this means for any one of us is personal to each one of us. How the Lord is asking you to trust him more deeply I do not know. But I do know that you must not be content where you are now, you must not be satisfied. Listen! The Lord is knocking at the door of your heart, open it and let him in.
If you think that you have done enough and that you are content, then ask the Lord to fill you with a hunger and a thirst to know him more deeply and to love him more fully. Now is the time to dream dreams and to think great things as to how your relationship with the Lord can grow.