How are those New Year’s resolutions working out for you? Have you lost the weight, quit smoking, organized your home, or reduced the stress in your life? Statistics show by January 30th only 8% of us have kept our resolutions. At the beginning of the year, many of us had a great sense of urgency and determination, but now the winter doldrums have set in and the passion to persevere as waned.
In today’s Gospel reading (Mark 1: 21-28), here is the same sense of urgency as Jesus proclaims, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus is telling them NOW is the time to change their minds, hearts and lives. He is telling all of us to stop and refocus on God and to place Him in the center of our lives. Jesus is clearly a person of action. James and John responded without delay to His call to follow Him. They left aside their father Zebedee, and their entire lives to become disciples of Jesus.
When we made our resolutions a short 3 1/2 weeks ago, we desired to leave aside our old habits, and to change our lives for the better. We have now entered into the time that perseverance must take over. To keep our resolutions, we must refocus and recommit ourselves to keeping the end goal in sight. To follow Jesus, we must be intentional in our efforts to ensure Jesus remains as ruler and King in our lives.
How do we do this? The same way we cultivate any relationship. We learn about Jesus. We spend time talking with Him (prayer), allow Him to speak to us just as much as we speak to Him, and we try to live according to His law of love (loving God and others as ourselves). Once we are continually trying to do this, we will encounter the living God ruling in our hearts and creating a joy within us, which we will be unable to contain. This is living in the Kingdom of God, a spiritual reality in the depths of our hearts and seen through our actions.
With our end goal of dwelling in the Kingdom of God in mind, let us take a look at our lives and ask some serious questions. What habits do I have that call for me to repent and turn toward God? When am I motivated by selfishness and how can I become a more generous and loving person? What are my gifts and how can I use those gifts to love and serve the community?
With God’s help, we can achieve our New Year’s resolutions. We can repent and change our lives in large and small ways by allowing Jesus to guide us. Let us pray…
“Make known to me your ways, LORD; teach me your paths.
Guide me by your fidelity and teach me, for you are God my savior…”