There is a 4,000-year-old tradition of making New Year’s resolutions according to history.com. The year-end is a perfect time to reflect back and set goals. I haven’t set very many New Year’s resolutions apart from my continual resolution to lose 5 and exercise more. I just wait for Ash Wednesday and make my resolutions then. Resolutions are simply decisions to either do something, or refrain from doing something. We resolve to make amends or change, not just on January 1 or on Ash Wednesday, but when we feel like we need to do something different. It isn’t hard to make them. The problem lies in keeping them. We need community to keep resolutions. For example: If you resolve to practice yoga in 2013, it helps to have a friend to sign up with, a class to go to, children who are patient when dinner is late, and a workplace that offers you time to go. Anyone seeking recovery knows they need a community to hold them up and hold them accountable. We need each other because the role the community plays in the nature and implementation of resolutions is huge.
But beyond community helping foster individual resolutions, there are communal resolutions, because as the community thrives, our individual lives of faith thrive. Common resolutions foster the common good, which affects us all. The gift we offer one another is to live out our faith together. We promise to be there for one another in good and bad times, that we will hold each other up and hold each other accountable, and that by being together the sum will be greater than its parts. Common resolutions should be at the heart of our resolutions, since they are key to living in gratitude and meaning in our lives.
St. John Chrysostom lived in the 4th century and was the archbishop of Constantinople. His preaching echoed the themes of hospitality and charity as noted in Matthew 25, “when you did this to the least of these, you did it unto me”. He spoke eloquently about the need for all Christians to work together towards the common purpose of caring for one other. "This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good ... for nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for neighbors."
The early Christian communities were rooted in a common concern for one another in worship and service. In the readings this week for the celebration of the Holy Family, the letter of Paul to the Galatians says that we are all children of God. In other words, related. We are all heirs together, bound by the wellness of the whole community. The story of the birth of Jesus as told in the Gospel is the story of a community of faith, recognizing the gift of Jesus, celebrating with the family, and ultimately helping make sure the child was safeguarded; not just for Mary and Joseph, but for the sake of the whole community. It took the shepherds, the magi, the parents, and a slew of people to get the Holy Family to Egypt and back.
Recently a new resident came to Magdalene directly from prison from another state with nothing. She came into community with common goals and purpose. She told me that when she arrived her new roommate gave her clothes, shampoo, new underwear, and towels. She said she had never been treated with such kindness. Right after she said it, I wanted to say, “Well, you know, it’s because your roommate had just received all of those things so she just gave you what was given to her.” But as soon as the thought popped into my head, I knew that is just what we all do. We think at first that we give to others as if it was ours in the first place, when truly it was given to us and we just share it - whether it is a towel, a prayer, or a common resolution to share with the world. This is the week to celebrate and make some common resolutions for 2013. My hope is that we can resolve to:
1. Celebrate each week the newest people in the circle as the honored guests of the banquet.
2. Launch the cafe and the sewing studio.
3. Hone the message of inclusion and love without judgment.
4. Open a new residence inside and outside the prison walls.
5. Cast our nets wider and speak unapologetically as a unique community without formal membership about freedom offered when we focus on right action, not right thought.
We are called to love the world, so we all have to keep changing to love it better. We need a community with a common resolve to help us live into our resolve for the sake of the world.
Peace and Love,