by Ken Rolheiser
​The Blessings of a New Year

A farmer had only one ear. On New Year’s morning his neighbor drives into the yard, stops his truck and hollers across the yard, “Happy New Year!” The farmer hollers back, “The horse bit it off!”

One of the blessings of a New Year is enjoying the BEST New Year Jokes.

A group of seniors was complaining: "My arms are so weak I can’t lift this cup of coffee"; "My cataracts are so bad I can't even see my coffee"; "What? Speak up! What? I can't hear you!”; "My blood pressure pills make me so dizzy!" 
"Well, count your blessings," said one woman cheerfully. "Thank God we can all still drive."

After twenty some years of publishing New Year columns you would think I might have developed a template to outline the essentials. The key to the column must be blessings: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26).

January, the first month, named after the Roman god Janus, had two faces, one to look to the future, and one to look back at the old year. What might we do better as we plan ahead?

New Year’s resolutions? We have tried them. One cynic remarked, “New Year’s resolutions go in one year and out the other.” I do believe in resolving to put a better foot forward and to leave last year’s mistakes in the hands of a forgiving God. 

Father Rudolph Novecosky shares the example of Alice who moved to a new job. She told the packers to just move everything into her new house. When she unpacked, there was all her furniture, her trash bin, her empty ketchup bottles, grapefruit peels…

We are designed to know God who tells us: “I know the plans I have in mind for you … reserving a future full of hope for you.” (Jeremiah 29:11). “Look, I am standing at the door knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal.” (Revelations 3:19).

A little preparation and realization will bring us to a year that is closer to God and our ultimate destiny. “…no eye has seen and no ear has heard things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9). St John Paul VI said: “In Jesus Christ salvation is offered to all people as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.”

“As a species we have nobility, courage, honour, hope and pride,” William Faulkner said in his Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech. He goes on to say that we are immortal because we have “a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”

As we face another year, we are aware of the old unease of the human heart in conflict with itself. This seems to be our natural state. We reflect on the old universal truths that touch the deepest meanings of human existence. As Nelson Mandala said in his inaugural address, “We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. …It is in everybody, and as we let our light shine… our presence liberates others.”

Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given;
While angels sing with tender mirth,
A glad new year to all the earth. (Martin Luther).

(587 words)