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Reframing Our Resolutions

Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church

First Reading: 1 John 2:22-28

Beloved:
Who is the liar?
Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.
Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist.
Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father,
but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.
If what you heard from the beginning remains in you,
then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.
And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.
I write you these things about those who would deceive you.
As for you,
the anointing that you received from him remains in you,
so that you do not need anyone to teach you.
But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false;
just as it taught you, remain in him.

And now, children, remain in him,
so that when he appears we may have confidence
and not be put to shame by him at his coming.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4

R. (3cd) All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Gospel: John 1:19-28

This is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
“I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

NAB

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Here we are together, the day after the ball has dropped, after the confetti has finished falling and the buzz of the champagne fades—looking into a bright, fresh expanse of New Year stretching far and wide ahead of us.

Did you make a resolution (or ten)? Come up with a word or a focus for 2017? Are you determined to hit the gym? Read more? Spend less? Start a diet?

Chances are you have something in mind. I do too.

But the harsh words of today’s readings implore us to look a little more closely at designs we have for this fresh path ahead of us. It’s a good reminder to consider the motivation behind our goals—to reflect on whether they are rooted in giving glory to God’s truth, or in catering to the world’s “standards,” built on Satan’s deceptions and lies.

Are we headed to the gym because we just want to fit in those skinny jeans and look better? Because we’re chasing the prestige of breaking a record or winning a race? Or does our deepest motivation lie in the importance of fully caring for our body to the best of our ability—the one and only body we possess, created to be God’s temple, an instrument through which we serve others, a way to use athletic talents to bring Him glory?

Are we eating a healthy diet in a way that honors and fully nourishes our body, helping it to function in the best way possible to carry out our vocation? Or are we “dieting,” trying to convince ourselves that through it, we can attain the world’s distorted, impossible standards of weight and beauty and acceptance and worth?

Are we reading more to gain notoriety, or to expose ourselves to creativity and knowledge in a way that orders order our minds and souls toward God? Are we spending less in an attempt to gain a semblance of control and reduce anxiety, or are we approaching it with a heart of stewardship and appreciation for every gift, big or small, that comes from God?

This is a wake-up call for me; more often than not, my motives are fed by false humility, and I’m really not the goal-setting purist that I thought I was.

As we look ahead, God wants us to remember that it’s more than just our soul that communes with Him. He created our whole beings—body, mind, and soul—to be in union with Him and give Him glory. If we leave Him out of any of these areas, we simply can’t be our happiest or most fulfilled self. But if we create each of our goals with space for God in mind, He will bless our intentions so richly.

Do our goals reflect God’s truth and “make straight” the path of our New Year? Or do we deny the essence of Jesus in our motives by infusing them with the world’s standards of importance? Let’s commit to goals rooted in God’s truth this New Year!

Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and sometimes soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.

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