“Unless We Make Room to Receive God, as He Appeared to Us, Everything will Remain Old in Us”

Archpriest George Shalhoub | 01 January 2015
“Unless We Make Room to Receive God, as He Appeared to Us, Everything will Remain Old in Us”


I greet you and your loved ones in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, Who became one of us in order for us to become one with Him.

I am fascinated by the popularity of New Year’s Eve resolutions, as if our lives depend on them, and how so many people do not adhere to their resolutions. National statistics state that 90% of all resolutions will be forgotten within the first few days of the New Year.

I wish to point out the first major feast day of the New Year is January 1st, St. Basil the Great and on January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany (the appearance of God at Christ’s baptism). We read in the Gospel of St. Mark that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit appeared at Jesus’ baptism. (Mark 1:10-11)

In Him is our beginning and our end. And, unless we make room to receive God, as He appeared to us, everything will remain old in us. His appearance renews and transforms us, making us children of the most high God by entering into communion with Him through the mysteries of the church—the Holy Eucharist, the Blood and Body of Christ. Our faith teaches us to believe in Christ and in His Holy Church. God is timeless. Therefore, we do not wait for a new year, because God’s grace is a living engine that moves us every moment, every day, every year through the rest of our lives.

Days come and go and world events, such as crisis, war, sickness, will remain a part of this world. The difference is that God’s grace in us moves us through all of life’s events, strengthening us “because we can do all things, through Christ, Who strengthens us,” says St. Paul.
The object of New Year’s, is not that we should have a new year. The object is that in this new year, we should have a new attitude, new opportunities, and a new soul. The object of the new year is to have new hands to give generously, new legs to serve the Church and the needy, new eyes to see the goodness in others, not condemning or judging them, and new ears to hear Christ call us to follow Him. The object of the new year is to have new dreams, new hope and new love.

We should not sweat the small stuff. The new year will lead us to write a new page with words of hope – of love – of self-control becoming the first chapter of only you being new on the first day of the year. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Rev 3:20)

New Year’s Day is our birth and in baptism, we are born of water in the Spirit to have newness of life. Only you will be new on the first day of the new year if you confront your vices, especially of arrogance and self-inflated importance, stop being greedy, jealous or holding grudges. Only you can make a u-turn to have peace within yourself, because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Only you can be new on New Year’s Day if you practice the following resolution: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” (Ph. 4:6-7)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. The Lord of hosts is with us.” (Ps 46:1-3, 7)

May you be open to God’s grace to be new, not only on the first day of the year, but throughout the many days, months and years to come. Remember, faith makes all things possible, hope makes all things work and love makes all these things beautiful.

This essay was first published on the website of the Basilica of St. Mary, Livonia, MI, December 2014.

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