Monday, January 08, 2007

New Year Message

The approach of the new year 2007 again augurs fresh hope for new beginning. It evokes anticipation, better tomorrow, bright days ahead, no matter the dark ominous shadow at the heel of the old year that is fast fading to the irretrievable past. For lodged deeply in man’s being is that stubborn hope that springs eternal.

Hope, however, does not work on a vacuum. It feeds on perceived reality. And as different people have different ways of perceiving realities, it is no wonder that man’s hope to survive or succeed differs. One places his hope on the market and therefore gauges his better tomorrow with the economic growth or, at least, stability. With the growing strength of the peso vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar, some Filipinos hope that we are at last in a break through towards quality life, development, and progress. At least this is what the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey told us as bannered by the Philippine Star December 29, 2006 issue: “Despite a spate of natural calamities and political upheavals in the year just past, most Filipinos still look to the New Year with hope.” Others hope that globalization will somehow catch up with us and sweep the Philippines to finally reach the economic tiger status in the region offering to the Filipinos life that approximates first world citizens. Others place hope in the discovery of science, the growing wonders of the chips in the cyberspace world and the virtual images they create, the advance of technology, human endeavors and unheard of inventions. All help to fuel man’s hope for the new year, notwithstanding the challenges on its train.

No matter the boast of modern man, however, he is still disturbed with fears and apprehensions lurking deep in his being. Can he survive the ever growing challenges of life, the precarious peace based on a bilateral agreement of contending parties, the deep-seated hatred of one class against the other, the insatiable hunger for more power and wealth among the rich and powerful in the face of poor people stretching out their gaunt hands to reach out for a piece of dry bread or a bowl of rice to stave off the gnawing pain of hunger, the graft and corruption in public office, the bombings, summary killings, robbery and petty thefts? It is no wonder that one great scientist in the midst of all these staggering discoveries made by man, the power they have unleashed, the riches they have helped to amass, pensively made this wry statement: “I just hope that after all these discoveries man will wake up to find the universe friendly.”

The Church perceives reality from the perspective of faith. Its hope for man and for the society in which he lives is based on the belief that God is not a distant God, but a God who hears the cry of the poor, a God who cares, a God who takes on human flesh and blood and dwells among His own, a God who dies that the whole creation might live. It is this God who is the hope of man. As St. Paul spiritedly put it: “Indeed, the whole created world eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God… because the world itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom 8: 20 & 21). It is this kind of hope that the Church offers to a humanity that is caught up in shivers due to the spate of so much violence and wanton killings. It is based on the perception that Christ conquered sin, death and all that are connected with it. In Him and with Him we too can conquer sin, death and all the ugly things and occurrences that ever rear up to destroy human life and values. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom 8: 31)?

And so, when the believer greets you “Happy New Year”, he is expressing his deep conviction that human life is not only friendly - it is worth living.

Happy New Year to one and all.


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