2020 has gone. It was a very difficult year as the coronavirus showed itself to be no respecter of persons, rank, nationality, gender, or age. Coupled with the challenges posed by the influx of our Venezuelan neighbours, domestic violence, rising unemployment, and an increasing tendency to play the race card, there was a collective desire not only to leave 2020 behind, but an abiding hope that we could enter 2021 fresh.
So it is that every January 1, much of humanity look forward with eagerness to the brand new year. It is an opportunity to put behind us all the things done or not done in the previous year and anticipate with hope the newness of the next 365 days. Essentially, we see it as a form of beginning with a clean slate.
Before we throw out the 2020 baby with the bathwater though, perhaps we should heed Herod’s words to the Magi, to “go and search diligently for the child,” and reflect on where we were able to find Jesus in the midst of the pandemic. There is one word that sums up 2020: Resilience, and we would do well to take that resilience into 2021.
In our personal lives, we were forced to develop the discipline of mask wearing, physically distancing and hand sanitising demanded by a COVID-19 world. In our family lives, relationships either improved, stabilised, or worsened during the past year, as we were forced to spend more time in each other’s presence. More importantly, electronic devices were increasingly utilised for one of their primary intentions – education.
The Church too was forced to create its new normal, reaching out to the faithful not only from the pulpit when liturgical assemblies were allowed, but utilising websites, social media platforms and mobile phone apps.
The prolonged inability to physically gather forced catechists to re-imagine the delivery of faith formation classes, and hospitality ministries assumed an even greater importance than greeting and seating persons.
Undoubtedly then, in 2021, the Church will be called upon to continue searching diligently for the ways in which the Christ child can be revealed in all its ministries.
Pope Francis has offered one such possibility via his announcement of a special year dedicated to the ‘Family Amoris Laetitia’, commencing on the Solemnity of St Joseph, March 19, and culminating with the Tenth World Meeting of Families in June 2022.
Often forgotten after the reading of the Christmas story, Joseph’s witness of faith in confusing times, his supportive role in the drama of the Incarnation, and his dedication to his vocation as father and provider for Mary and Jesus, are all facets of inspiration to be carried into 2021.
By highlighting Joseph’s role, Pope Francis is again reminding us of the centrality of the family in God’s plan of redemption, and more particularly, pointing us to the role that men, as fathers and providers, as defenders and role models, are being called upon to play more earnestly in 2021.
As the new year dawns, let us indeed clean our slates and begin anew, but let us also keep searching diligently for the Christ child in 2021.