DISPOSITIONS OF THE HEART FOR THE NEW YEAR Homily of Fr. Primitivo 'Jun' Viray, Jr.
Church of the Gesù, Ateneo de Manila University
1 January 2021, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
How can we best prepare to welcome the new year? In a VUCA world, that is, volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, what anchors or handles do we hold on to help us? Or to put it in another way, what dispositions of the heart can we consider as we begin another year? The heart as we know is a symbol of our emotion, affect, and love, thus it encompasses our whole person. How can we properly dispose our hearts, our entire person, to respond to this VUCA world?
First, we can beg for the grace of gratitude for the past year. It may be all too hard to take this in having seen how wrong and devastating the year 2020 has been—the loss of lives and livelihoods, the staggering hunger and poverty.
For skeptics, this is too hard to swallow: how can God have allowed all these to happen? But Pope Francis from the very beginning of the pandemic, reminded us that the pandemic with all its impact on the world can be a place for metanoia, of conversion. It can be an opportunity to move us out of our selfishness and look outwards to care for others, to be the Good Samaritan touched by the suffering he witnessed and goes out of his way to help.
We can be grateful for being alive and well, secure and safe with all that we will ever need. We know that there is so much to be grateful for.
In the 1st Reading from the book of Numbers, the Lord instructs Moses how to bless the people of Israel. Today as we begin a new year, we listen to the Lord to speaking to us and blessing us directly as he did the people of Israel:
I will bless you and keep you! I will look upon you kindly and let the splendor of my face shine upon you. And grant you peace and grace and wholeness!
Today, we invoke your name, O God. Look on all of us kindly. Please bless us, every one of us.
As God has always been faithful and generous to us in the past, we turn to him and beg from him to dispose our hearts to receive his blessing of peace for the coming year.
Peace: the Hebrew word Shalom includes the idea of happiness, good health, prosperity, friendship, and general well-being. Happiness here does not mean singing, dancing, and having fun but rather it means having the protective hand of God over us.
Happiness here does not mean singing, dancing, and having fun but rather it means having the protective hand of God over us.
It means that nothing can go wrong, and God’s guidance is ever present, looking over us, despite any appearances to the contrary. This is the peace that we are asking God to bless us and dispose us at the beginning of the new year.