By Marcus Peter
The year 2020 brought with it perhaps some of the biggest conundrums to have beset humanity in a century or so. Today, at the end of the year, we are called to reassess our response to the challenges that 2020 brought with it.
What has been outstanding to note is that while the culture of death continued to grow, from advances in infanticide being legalized in Argentina, to the voting for yet another presidential candidate that has been a public advocate for legitimizing the murder of the unborn, the world also saw a culture of fear develop. The very same voices who would not bat an eyelid in snuffing out the life of the unborn, the helpless, and the elderly, successfully enacted campaigns imputing guilt upon one and all who did not step into line with their rhetoric pertaining to COVID-19.
Through a narrative of fear put forth by worldwide media and social media, a virus successfully tore apart communities, isolated entire societies, affected the education of a generation, and crippled national economies. While the virus itself is very real and poses legitimate concern, the fear with which the human race has been responding to the virus will undoubtedly engender lasting detrimental results.
In the wake of the pressure cooker of fear that the world has been forced to live in for most of 2020, how are we to look forward to 21? John Paul II tells us how: with hope.
In his Apostolic Exhortation at the end of the year 2000, Novo Millenio Ineunte, John Paul II exhorts the faithful to enter into the new millennium with hope. His words are as poignant now as they were then.
May this year of our Lord 2021 be lived as a continual, "...unceasing hymn of praise to the Trinity" and also "as a journey of reconciliation and a sign of true hope for all who look to Christ and to his Church".
Despair is an easy fallback. It requires no effort on one's part. One needs to merely give up on life. One needs merely to throw in the towel, and expect no salvation in the obstacle one faces. Hope demands a childlike vigor, an innocent and relentless openness to the newness that the Father ever showers upon His Church and the world. Make no mistake. This coming year will be tougher on the Church than 2020 was. The journey forward for the Church is certainly still difficult, "[it] will perhaps be long, but we are encouraged by the hope that comes from being led by the presence of the Risen One and the inexhaustible power of his Spirit, always capable of new surprises." (John Paul II, Novo Millenio Ineunte, 12).
Our God is the one who makes all things new. Contrary to the trite cliche, our God is not a Lord of the journey but the Master of the destination. His plan is undefeatable precisely because He has established a unified teleology for all His creatures. All things come from Him and to Him they will return for only in Him do they find purpose. He is ever in control. This is our hope. This world is our pilgrimage ground. We are but sojourners. In the face of the darkest night, ours is a light within that far outshines any sense of despair. We are Christians. We are not afraid of death because our Lord has conquered death. For the faithful, human death is but an entry into true and eternal life. This is our hope.
We are children of the Father. The Apostle John reminds us of this, "Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4.
Blessed New Year from all of us at the St. Peter Institute.