4, 3, 2, 1... Happy New Year!

What the priest said about New Year celebration at the mass today echoes what the Pope said at about Christmas a week ago.

The priest talked about how people take part in mass activities, such as the countdown last night, without pondering the meaning of the occasions. This is much like what the Pope said about how the increasingly commercial celebration of Christmas has obscured the message of Christ’s birth.

The fact that so many people take part in these celebrations, I believe, is a sign of their boredom, loss or fear. People are not used to or are even afraid of quiet time and actively seek to fill the emptiness by looking for instant, sensual gratification. So when they travel on buses or trains, they bury themselves in whatever engagement or entertainment their smart phones offer, be it to chit-chat with friend, play video games, listen to music or watch films. When they get home, the first thing to do is to switch on the television. Quietness is to be purged at all cost.

Quietness is actually very valuable. As Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We need to create space to see God’s presence, but, sadly, we typically leave very little inner space for God. Didn’t the Bible tell us that when Jesus came to the world, “there was no room” (Luke 2:7) for Him?

Maybe we should learn a lesson from Mary. As the Gospel today tells us, when all who heard the message about the birth of Jesus wondered at what happened, Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

At the turn of the year, it is better for us to find some quiet time to reflect on what lessons to learn from the last year that would help us improve in the next one than to be part of the raucous countdown party at the Time Square.

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