As we leave behind year 2020, which was filled with unexpected losses and hardships, will 2021 be a better year? Happier? Healthier? More peaceful? Dates give us guidance for marking passage of time. But they themselves do not have power to bring about different outcomes. If we expect year 2021 to be different from 2020, something has to be done different or we’ll get the same outcomes.
Have you seen the movie called Groundhog Day? A reporter, a grumpy reporter, goes to a small town to cover the Groundhog Day. He’s grouchy, and unsatisfied, and goes through the motions to report on an uneventful, silly, as far as he is concerned, tradition of this town. He wakes up the next day, in the same town, same day, Groundhog Day, and facing the same events as yesterday! As if stuck in a night mare that is repeating itself over and over, he keeps waking up to the same day. At first, he is frustrated, perplexed, and he gets angry, then he feels helpless, trapped in the same day over and over again. Does your life ever feel like this? Do you wake up to same circumstances, same choices, same opportunities, day after day? Do things in your life you don’t like remain and same disappointments face you day after day? There are some people who experience they go through patterns of behavior, whether in dating, or friendships, or jobs, that they end up with similar outcome even though they desire for different outcomes.
The reporter in this story is beyond himself, and at some point, acknowledges that things are beyond his control. He accepts his predicament of living the same day over and over again. Instead of being annoyed at the towns people, he learns their names on his way to work. He takes up piano and takes lessons, and after many Groundhog Days, he can play cheerful tunes to which people can sing along. He was also getting rejected by the same love interest over and over again on the Groundhog Day, but as he changed little by little with the passing of each ground hog day, the woman he kept getting rejected from, started seeing this reporter in a new light. Of course, this movie had a Hollywood ending, at the end of the movie, when the reporter had learned to overcome his situation, just like that the alarm rings, and he wakes up not to Groundhog Day, but to the day after Groundhog Day, a new day, filled with new opportunities, new circumstances, new people to greet, and new beginnings.
The circumstances in the movie – Groundhog Day – did not change. But the reporter changed. He saw his life differently, he viewed people differently, and he seized opportunities rather than dismissing the potential hidden in starting of new things. Year 2021 will be like the movie, Groundhog Day for us, the same as 2020, unless we change, and we see year 2021 in a new light, and make different choices than we did in year 2020.
We often take for granted that we live in the light. We are in the presence of God who created the heavens and the earth. “In the beginning…” God is doing something new in the beginning, in the book of Genesis, and in the Gospel of John, God is creating new reality and giving us new opportunities.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2). These words point to God: The Word was in the beginning and was with God and was God. Through him all things came into being. “What came into being in him was life and life was the light of all the people” (John 1:4). Light of life is the Word, God, who was with God in the beginning. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5). The light of life is a powerful light, shining in the darkness without being overcome by the darkness.
Looking back on year 2020, what things would you like to keep, and what things would you like to erase or discard from happening again in 2021? We will have different answers to this question, naturally. But as for things that we want different in the year 2021, if we act the same way as we did in year 2020, we will get the same outcome as year 2020. So, we have to do things differently. But how can we ensure we will make better choices? When people play out a pattern of behavior in interpersonal relationships or in their work place, it is because there is something that the individual cannot resolve or see their way through and beyond, that might help the person respond and act in new ways. People don’t repeat unwanted patterns of behavior because they want to. If we keep making the same mistakes despite our wanting to change, it’s not because we don’t want to change, but because we can’t help ourselves. Would you agree?
I have good news to share with you. You are not alone. We are not alone.
The light of life, the light that shines in the darkness and does not become overcome by it. The light, the Word, is with us. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). We just celebrated Christmas. You might have celebrated by exchanging gifts, and connecting with your loved ones in some way, but what were you celebrating? Christmas is about the Word becoming flesh. God came to us, to live among us. We are not alone. God who loves us, became flesh, and “we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” God is with us. In the movie, Groundhog Day, the reporter took everything for granted and did not pay attention to people he was passing by every day on the way to his work. For some of us, God might have become like one of the extras on a movie set: important that they are there, but not much interaction or interest in getting to know them. Starting today, in year 2021, would you open your eyes to the light? The light that is life? The light of life that is the Word that became flesh. God with us means that God can be our strength, our companion, and our comforter. When we can see this day in a new light, see things we took for granted in new ways, as new potentials bearing new possibilities, year 2021 indeed can and will be a happier, healthier year, filled with fewer regrets and losses.
“But to all who receive him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1: 12-13). If you believe, you have been given the power to become children of God. We are not born of the will of man, but of God. Do you believe this? You are a child of God. We are God’s children. If we are children of God, let us reach out to our Abba Father/Mother. Let us reach out to our creator. Let us reach out to God who dwells among us, and ask for guidance. Ask for help. Ask for comfort. We are not alone. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9). The true light has come. It enlightens everyone. The Light of Life is with us. Let us come into the presence of God and take joy in God’s love for us.
Let us Pray: We bless you, Abba, Father, for you have visited your people in one like us in all things but sin, and in human fragility you have revealed the face of divinity. Gather into your arms all the peoples of the world, so that in your embrace we may find blessing, peace, and the fullness of our inheritance as your daughters and sons. Amen.