Sunday, January 27, 2013

A New Beginning

In our Catholic faith we are constantly starting over. In the sacrament of Penance, our sins are wiped away and we are given the chance to start over. The First Sunday of Advent we begin a new liturgical year. Holy Thursday- Easter we start over with newly blessed oils, a new candle, new bread, and new water. And each year, at the start of Ordinary Time, after reading of Jesus's first miracle, we start a new gospel.

This year we begin our reading of Luke, the gospel that comes closest to our modern notion of history. He starts by acknowledging that others have written accounts but he is going to study the matter and write an orderly account that will be convincing (particularly to the Greek mind).

His account is addressed to Theophilus. Whether this was an actual person or a literary device, who can say? The name means a lover of God. It reminds us that our faith must always be grounded in a true love of God that surpasses any human love we have, love of family, love of spouse, love of children, must all come after love of God. We must all be Theophilus.

Most of all we must constantly struggle to overcome love of self. This week at Disney World, while I saw some extraordinary acts of kindness and people helping others, even strangers, I also witnessed the narcissism of the 21st century. People walking as if they were they only person in the world, people stopping to look around at the top of an escalator (oblivious to the people coming up behind them). And much of if is technology driven. The same technology that can connect us can also enable us to get lost in our own little world, oblivious to the world around us.

Today we begin a new gospel, a chance to start over. Start with love of God, then open our eyes to the others around us, and put ourselves last on the list. Don't worry, we're all human, there's no danger we will become too selfless.