Updated: Jan 4, 2021
Welcome to 2021! I hope this year, we all continue in Christ's blessing in our spiritual journey toward Him. As we celebrate to fore feast of the Theophany, may God's renewal of the waters, the world, and our lives guide you even more this year!
This Sunday, January 3rd, 2021, we read and reflect on the 2nd Letter to Timothy, chapter 4:5-8 and the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1: 1-8. This Sunday, we appropriately look toward what will be new. Consider that in Paul's epistle to Timothy and we read the familiar words of his valedictory (Paul was in prison and would soon be martyred as he writes):
"But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing".
Now that we moved forward to 2021, let us take the measure of our lives. As Christians, we know that being Christian in the world necessarily means being contested every time we look to do good or be good. As time changes, we must stay engaged in the fight to change ourselves back into the beings of light that God created us to be from the beginning. This fight is the one within ourselves where the good and evil around us affect the good we seek within us being influence by the bad with us...those experiences, feelings, actions, behaviors that serve to keep us stuck and trapped rather than move us to become what we are meant to be. Often the fight itself can lead us to quit on ourselves, quit of God, and quit on humanity. This kind of isolation makes us alone and often leads to fighting ourselves, being subject only to ourselves, and out of touch with people and God (which is just how Satan wants us!).
This year has been one of isolation because of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic but, there is no isolation worse than the darkness that Satan, the evil one, wishes to share with all of us. So, fight the good fight and know that being engaged in the fight for your soul changes your life and those around you. As St. Paul offers, all Christians are called to ministry and that ministry is as simple as our ability to get up when we fall down in life and help others to do the same. This is how we all give testimony to Christ who came to not only pick all of us up but, to save us and bring us to Himself. So, find your ministry this year, wherever you find yourself.
As I think about St. Paul's words, I recall a striking movie entitled "The Book of Eli", starring Denzel Washington. In this film, the character Eli offers a powerful prayer at end of the movie on the 2nd letter to Timothy (about his life's journey). Like the character in this film, we are writing the book of our life, with a view to being found in 'The book of life' of which holy scripture speaks. CLICK HERE to hear the reflection in the movie.
Like St. Paul, we will all "finish" and by God's grace move on to eternal life. There is certainly a race and St. Paul tells us he has finished his. Note, he did not say that we had to win the race, we must finish it. But he also tells us, that all who "love [Christ's] appearing", will receive the crown of eternal life in His kingdom.
So, as we approach the first appearing of God, the Theophany, let us love His appearing!
In this way, we can all "keep the faith". And, to be sure, the familiar adage that "you can't take it with you" is equally true with faith. It must be used, it must increase as we "fight the good fight". Keeping the faith requires action... so let us all find the courage to use the new year to take new steps toward Christ in whom and from whom our faith resides. God's Blessings to us all in 2021. Amen. Fr. Martin.