Let us draw near to Christ in this new year

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It is January, and the verses of “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” have faded into memory. The new year is fresh as the new snow upon the bough. We were there among the faithful at Christmas. We were there for Mass celebrating the birth of Christ, and for Advent — peaceful and reflective.

Can we bring that faith with us throughout the year? What brings us to encounter Jesus like we do at Christmas? How do we keep that with us throughout the mundane and the hectic, the sorrow and the joy of every day? It comes down to being stewards of our faith.

At this time of resolutions and new beginnings, we can begin by cultivating our relationship with God with a fresh start and new opportunities. We can begin with a simple commitment to pray each day — spending ten minutes with the Lord to share our joys and sorrows, to give them to him for guidance. Pope Francis has urged the faithful to spend time with the Scriptures, to learn about God and his will for us.

We might take time to practice gratitude each day, to thank the Lord for the small and the big blessings. We need to balance our lives, to spend time with family, to listen to others, to be there for those in need.

A few weeks back, in the darkness of these short days, coming home after work and picking up my daughter from school, we made a quick pit stop at Fred Meyer. We ran in, grabbed a few things, got back in the car and started our way through the crowded parking lot.

Waiting our turn and inching toward the exit, I saw a lady standing with a few bags of groceries and her thumb out. I wondered what a woman, at least ten years older than myself, was doing hitchhiking. As we approached her, I rolled down my window to ask where she was going – at which point my daughter in the back seat voiced her disagreement. The woman said she just needed a ride down to Carrs, which was exactly on my way home. I told her to hop in.

As we drove, she told me her story of not being able to afford a car. She was not destitute, she had friends, she just chose this as her means of transportation. Her name is Mary, and she has been hitching for 50 years, she said. In those short minutes, we shared a little about ourselves, and we laughed in the warmth of the car, before she said she needed to get out and go home.

My daughter, who was silent the whole time, then said, “Well, that was a nice lady.” I said, I know, and we both smiled all the way home as we chatted about parts of Mary’s story. This kept us going as we then flew back into our lives, grabbing hockey gear, throwing food down our throats and rushing out the door to practice.

Wherever your resolutions take you, remember to bring God with you, and to share the joys and challenges with him — we can do more with his help.

The writer is director of the Office of Stewardship and Development for the Archdiocese of Anchorage.

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