By Msgr. Joseph P. Calise
Although the Church began our new year on the First Sunday of Advent, many are looking forward anxiously to the end of the calendar year 2020. “This has been quite a year for all of us” is a dramatic understatement. The pandemic, unnecessary violence in our streets, an unkind and controversial election, and all the fallout from all of them have created a time in history that we will all be happy to see become “memories” rather than “headlines.”
As the most enduring of this year’s challenges, the pandemic has been at the center of most of our conversations. Realistically speaking, for several months there was little else to talk about. It is interesting to think about how people reacted to it. Many people I spoke with were angry and frightened. Our day-to-day routine was disturbed, some of our pleasures were taken away from us, and there was a general feeling of oppression and deprivation. Conversations usually consisted of woes and complaints and the desire to blame someone as if that would either make it go away or hasten a cure.
Now, most of these same people are complaining about how much they drank, how much weight they’ve gained, or how hard it will be to get back into a daily routine. On the other hand, there are some (actually there are many) who responded differently. One friend recently told me he completed all the repairs on his house that he had been putting off. Another spent the time learning a new language. Several people talked about new recipes they tried and how they finally cleaned out the cabinets in their kitchens and the closets in their bedrooms. Books have been read; movies watched; families have actually had face-to-face conversations at the dinner table.
As we reflect on the Old Testament promise of the coming Messiah, we see that God’s people went through many of life’s proverbial “ups and downs” before it actually occurred. It was their faith that saw them through it all — their trust that “things will get better when He comes.” We have just celebrated that coming and its subsequent promise that He will return. Now, we are experiencing some of our own proverbial “ups and downs.” But our hope remains the same — this too shall pass, eventually things will get better.
2020 has reminded me of a valuable lesson — we live life on life’s terms. My hope and my happiness do not depend on what is happening around me but on how I choose to react. I hope I remember that through the yet unknown 2021.
Msgr. Calise is the pastor of Transfiguration-St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Maspeth.