I’ve never been a great fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I’m probably avoiding failure by not trying in the first place. I seek to justify it by saying that if there are things to improve in our lives, we shouldn’t wait until new year to implement them? But I think I’m wrong.
The most popular resolutions are all things that are great for our well-being and that of the world. Things like: Go to bed earlier…Reduce single use plastic consumption…Create a savings plan…Read more, scroll less…Drink more water…Drink less alcohol…Eat more veggies…Volunteer… Increase exercise…Reduce social media…Give up smoking…Drive less, walk more
The fact that statistically 80% of people give up on at least some of their resolutions could simply be seen as failure. But in fact it means that 20% have created new positive habits and life choices. It’s actually better than that, because some of the 80% will have kept up something of their resolutions.
Many people will fail before the end of January, but at least they have more chance of success than those who never started in the first place.
We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbours as themselves.
On the 6 January we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany at which we remember the visit of the wisemen/magi/kings to the baby Jesus. Of course, the story of the Epiphany is told in the famous carol written by John Henry Hopkins Jr. in 1857, We Three Kings.
The chorus tells us of a star of wonder that appeared at night to guide the kings to the Jesus. The word Epiphany comes from a Greek word and means “appearance or manifestation.”
Throughout the world, Christians celebrate it 12 days after Christmas Day. Some countries refer to it as “Three Kings Day.” Western Christianity recognizes Christ’s appearance to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were represented when The Magi visited the child Jesus and showed how God’s gift is for everyone. The Eastern Christian church observes Jesus’ baptism on this day. His baptism revealed his identity to mankind; thus Epiphany celebrates God revealing himself to the world in both the East and the West.
Traditions observing Three Kings Day vary worldwide and have changed over time. During the Middle Ages, celebrations focused on the Magi’s journey with processions and parades.
Some folklore and customs of Epiphany throughout the world include children receiving gifts on this day rather than on Christmas Day. In some Spanish-speaking countries, three kings deliver gifts, not Santa Claus. On Twelfth Night, as it is known in some countries, children would leave a shoe and a bit of straw on their doorstep. They would find their shoe filled with gifts and the straw gone.
Some traditions on Epiphany around the world include eating a “Kings Cake” with a trinket baked inside. Whoever finds the trinket, is King or Queen for the day.
The wise men or “magi” came from far away, probably Persia, they are gentiles and so represent the whole of humanity. We are told in Matthews Gospel that first thing the magi do upon entering the stable and seeing Mary and the Child is to kneel and worship him. In other words, they give themselves. Only after this act of worship, only after giving themselves do they present their material gifts. As we move into a new year, let us do as the magi did.
Let us give the gift that they gave – let us give ourselves. As we enter this new year, with the uncertainty of how the rises in the cost of living are going to affect us all, with conflict and strife in the Middle East and the Ukraine we all need more than ever to journey with each other and give our time and talents to look out for each other. To love our neighbours as ourselves