I hope you had a beautiful and holy Christmas with your family and loved ones.
As I was celebrating the midnight Mass, I was reflecting that this is the final Christmas of the decade.
And as I continued to pray about this, I thought that looking ahead to the new year and the decade to come, I want to propose two simple resolutions for us.
The first I am calling “More Like Jesus.”
The truth is this: Jesus Christ came into this world, and he comes to us now in the Eucharist and in the pages of the Gospel, to show us the way to salvation. And he is that way.
Jesus says to each of us, “Follow me.” That means more than simply calling yourself a Christian or going to church on Sundays. Following Jesus means imitating Jesus; it means walking with Jesus as a friend and taking him as the guide and model for our lives.
St. Paul was the one who first spoke of the imitation of Christ, and this is still the basic pattern of the Christian way of life. Some saints speak of “becoming Jesus” or being “other Christs.”
We know that children learn by imitation. They watch their parents and they do what they see. The finest artists, actors, athletes, and craftsmen begin their training through the imitation of the masters. It is the same with us as Christians.
Jesus said, “Come to me … learn from me.” And there are two practical habits that can help us to learn from our Master and become more like him.
The first, as I have suggested before, is to meet Jesus every day in the “Vita Christi,” the life of Christ written in the pages of the Gospels.
We do not read the Gospels as biography or history, as if they are books that speak of a person and events from the distant past.
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever. So, we need to read the Gospels in the present tense. What is the personal word that Jesus is speaking to me right now, in this moment?
Along with meeting him in the Gospels, we also need to meet Jesus personally in the Eucharist.
The Eucharist should be our “daily bread” for the journey of our life, and the Sunday celebration of the Mass should be the heart of our Christian lives.
It is also important to make time to just “be” with Jesus, in his presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
I wish everyone had the chance every day to “pay a visit” to a chapel or church to spend time in silence with the Lord. Even arriving for Mass 10 minutes early to pray is a good way to start.
When you are in his presence, talk to him simply as a friend, a brother. Tell him what you need, what you worry about, share your happiness with him. Ask him for courage to do his will and serve him better.
Learn to love to spend time with the Lord, just to be silent in his presence. The saints speak of looking at Jesus and allowing him to “look” at us, to examine and speak to our hearts. It takes practice; we need to learn to quiet our minds to think only of him. The best way we can learn is to just start doing it.
My second resolution I am calling “Everyday Missionaries.”
Jesus came to spread the love of God and to show us the path to salvation. And he gives each of us the mission to be his witnesses in the world.
Love Jesus and try to live like him, showing his love to the people that he puts in your life. This is the way we share Jesus. By our attitudes and actions, by the way we treat people, by the choices we make in the humble, ordinary things we do every day, at work, at home, in our friendships.
Los Angeles is one of the nation’s largest cities. Imagine if every Catholic here would bring just one person to a new encounter with Jesus. And what if each of those persons in turn would bring one more person to Jesus? Person to person, heart to heart, we could change the world with the help of his grace.
Pray for me this week, and I will pray for you.
And as we enter this new year and new decade, let us ask the Virgin Mary to intercede for us, that Jesus might shape our lives in his image, just as he took flesh in her womb.
Let us ask Mary to help us ponder his words and the scenes from his life, as she did, and to help us adore him in the Eucharist, as she and St. Joseph adored him in the manger.
And let us ask Mary to help us bring Jesus into this world, as she did.
I wish you all a blessed and holy New Year!