A Vital New Year's Resolution: Read and Hear the Holy Scriptures!
The beginning of the New Year offers many people an opportune time to make or renew commitments, to set or adjust goals, to make a "fresh start" toward improving, enhancing or changing their lives. This sense of newness and the impetus it gives to change is basically the result of how we mark time. One year is completed, and a new one begins. Another year with its struggles and accomplishments, victories and defeats has passed, and a New Year filled with possibilities has begun.
Certainly, the feelings, thoughts, and actions that this annual transition inspires are linked to the innate desire to find peace, to secure and enhance well-being, and to improve mind, body, and soul. However, the challenge faced by many in their attempt to do any of these things is finding guidance among the myriad of "life-changing" programs and self-help products. In addition, we live in a world and a culture that continuously offers goals for living and definitions of success that are as transitional as time itself. Just as the previous year has passed, so too do the "latest" means and methods for self-improvement.
As Christians we are truly blessed to have guidance that has not only stood the test of time but will also lead us to eternity. Our provident and gracious God has given to us the Holy Scriptures, a sacred text that "is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17). Within the pages of the Holy Scriptures we have not only God"s plan for our salvation from evil, sin, and death, but we have a wealth of divine truth, wisdom, knowledge, and direction that nurtures the mind, soul, and body in the way of peace and life. Through historical narrative, stories, teachings, hymns, and prayers that acknowledge in the most specific ways the conditions of our lives, the Holy Scriptures direct our attention first and foremost to Christ, the one who knows intimately our human experience and who will guide us in fulfilling our potential as persons created in the image of God. Through the record of our Lord"s ministry and teaching and that of His Apostles, and throughout all of the Scriptures, we find tremendous resources that guide us in setting goals, improving our well-being, and achieving new heights of knowledge, understanding, and communion with God and one another. Moreover, we can be assured that when one year passes into another, or even if heaven and earth passes away, the words of our Lord will not pass away (Matthew 24:35); the guidance provided to us within the pages of the Holy Scriptures will be applicable today, tomorrow, and into the ages to come.
In this New Year, we must resolve to read and to hear the Holy Scriptures. As we gather for worship in our parishes, we must listen attentively to the readings. We must resolve to teach and preach in a manner that not only affirms our commitment to the Gospel of truth, but also in a way that relates the Truth to the lives of people. We must also resolve to read the Scriptures regularly. Through reading, study, prayer, and teaching, we will find divine guidance for living in this world; we will understand growth and change in terms of our spiritual lives and well-being; and our lives will be filled with the knowledge and the presence of the One who came to be with us, Jesus Christ our Lord. May His blessings be with you and your families in this New Year.
Archbishop of America