No matter where we look, peace is a rare commodity. How then can the new year be more peaceful?
Start the year with avoiding certain behaviors and doubling up on civility.
St. Paul's Letter to the Corinthians often deals with adversity in his communities. Stop your strife and avoid jealousy, he counseled.
Jealousy is worrying about someone taking something from me, spawning over possessiveness. This is difficult to curb, given that we live in a culture that prompts us to get it now; don't deny yourself; be more protective and hold on to what you have.
Ironically, the more possessions we have, the greater fear we have of losing them. Fear and worry are often about losing possessions and status.
St. John Paul II often quoted Christ: "Be not afraid." And as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Both knew the stranglehold fear can have on us.
At times, fear can be useful in creating a scare in a person who needs a scare to change. But today, we live in such a fear-driven society that it is detrimental to humanity. It causes people to be overly protective; to think of me and not thou, creating coldheartedness.
2019 is a time to check our fear level and seek its causes and influences on us so that we can know what to avoid. St. Paul points us what to do in 2019 in his concept of a unified community: Increase civility so that it makes another feel at home with us. Civility goes beyond friendly words. It is a respectful disposition toward another.
Focusing on "thou" denotes respect and a desire for hearts coming together. It makes us seek the uniqueness of a person and to want to be one with him or her.
No doubt that in 2019 fear will be used to manipulate society into being more protective, and respect and considering the God-given uniqueness of the persons in our life will be considered a secondary necessity. Reversing this is exactly what will make 2019 a success.
- FatherEugene Hemrick is a columnist for Catholic News Service