I hope you all had a merry Christmas with your families and friends.
I love this season of Christmas because everybody seems to have a new sense that God has given us great possibilities for our lives. And this is true! This is the beautiful reality of Christmas. Jesus comes to be with us out his deep, personal love for each one of us.
So making New Year’s Resolutions is a profoundly Christian habit. It reflects a beautiful desire to grow in our friendship with Jesus Christ. And it reflects our awareness that we are not yet the people that God wants us to be.
We know that with God’s grace and help, all things are possible. In this spirit, I want to suggest three resolutions for all of us in this coming year.
Resolution 1: Make Jesus the center of our lives.
Let’s really do it this year. Let’s wake up every morning with our mind on Jesus and let’s go to sleep each night with our mind on Jesus.
Jesus wants us to be our friend, our brother. Let’s really start relating to him as our brother. He shares in our human nature. He is like in all things but sin. We need to learn from his words and his example.
One practical way to grow in our friendship with Jesus is to try to find the time to read the Gospels — the life of Jesus.
Set aside a few minutes every day to read one passage of the Gospels. Maybe use the Gospel reading that the Church proposes for daily Mass. Always begin by making a simple prayer from your heart that will put you in the presence of God.
Ask Jesus to open his Word for you. Don’t ask what the Gospel passage says “in general” or what it might mean for other people. Ask him personally, “Lord, what are you saying to me? What do you want me to do? What in my life must I change if I want to follow your more closely?”
Try to carry that Gospel passage with you throughout the day, reflecting on it. This is the beginning of walking with Jesus in our daily lives. We begin to see what our lives look like from his perspective.
Resolution 2: Make life better for others.
God’s plan for our lives is simple and beautiful. He wants us to receive his love in Jesus and to share that love with others. By our love we change the world. We make it more like heaven. And our own road to heaven is paved with our little acts of love, charity and kindness.
We need to have a positive intention every day to serve — to make life better for someone. Love begins with those who make the most demands on us, those who challenge our selfishness.
That means love begins with those who are closest to us. In our homes. In the places where we work or go to school.
Practically speaking, we need to have more patience, more understanding with the people in our lives. Let’s give others the benefit of the doubt, accept people as they are, stop being so judgmental. Let’s give a positive tone to our conversation and avoid negative criticism.
We have to treat one another with tenderness and love. Sometimes we can change a person’s whole day just be smiling, just by listening to what they have to say.
Resolution 3: Forgive others as God forgives us.
We have to open our hearts and open our lives — and show people the love of Christ that we know. That’s what it means to share our faith. It means loving people. Caring for them. Showing them mercy. And especially forgiveness.
We don’t forgive enough. This hurts our families. This hurts our relationships. People are going to hurt us and offend us. It’s going to happen every day. But staying angry or resentful doesn’t heal anything. It just makes things hurt longer.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis has said, “Jesus calls us all to follow this path: ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.’ … In silence, let's all think … of a person with whom we are annoyed, with whom we are angry, someone we do not like. Let us think of that person and … let us pray for this person and let us become merciful with this person.”
This is beautiful advice for us. So let’s make a resolution — to forgive others just as God forgives us. Every time! All the time!
I wish you all a very blessed New Year! Let’s keep praying for one another in 2014!
And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us in this coming year to grow in our relationship with her Son Jesus.
Archbishop Gomez’s book, “Immigration and the Next America,” is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop (www.olacathedralgifts.com/immigrationandthenextamericarenewingthesoulofournation.aspx). Follow him at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.