Last week I wrote an article about new year’s resolutions (“A New Beginning”). Today I will share some thoughts about what we might be looking forward to in 2022.
I think the thing most obvious thing that we would all like is for the Coronavirus pandemic to be over. We have long since grown wearing of it. We ask God to bring an end to the pandemic soon. Until then, we pray that everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, be diligent in maintaining safe practices like wearing facemasks when recommended. We also pray for the political side of the pandemic to end. Each group has its perspective. We pray that people listen to one another. This should not be a political battle. It is a public health issue. Freedom is important but we make the best use of our freedom when we act in a way that shows we love our neighbor, like wearing a mask. Remember wearing a mask does as much, if not more, to protect the people around us than ourselves.
Another thing that we hear about in the news that we should all want to go away is the shootings. We need to pay attention to why the shootings happen. Is a mental health issue on the part of the shooter? Then we pray and work for good mental health services to help those in need. Are the shootings because of hate? Then, how do we help everyone to turn to love. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor. This doesn’t mean that we are going to agree with everyone. It does call us to respect the dignity of all life.
I also think of violent protests. We pray for an end to the protests. What is it going to take? First, we need to listen to why the people are protesting. I think generally there can be a real issue behind the protests that we need to address. We pray that God’s will be done in addressing the issues behind the protest. There is another side of the protests we need to consider. Why do they become violent? How does anyone think the violence helps? Instead of leading to a peaceful solution, it can lead to more misunderstanding and hatred. Sometimes the violence occurs because emotions run high. We pray that God helps everyone keep their emotions under control. Unfortunately, I think violence and looting sometimes arise because of people who don’t care about the issue behind the protest. They are just using it as an opportunity to cause discord and/or looting. We pray that such people are not able to take over legitimate protests.
Another way that I hope and pray for to improve in 2022 is division. On each issue there are people with different viewpoints. Unfortunately, people are divided and many choose to not listen to what others are saying. They think they are right and the other person is wrong. We see the differing opinions in dealing with the pandemic, like whether or not one can be required to wear a mask. We can see it in the shootings. One side wants more gun control laws while the other side says everyone has a right to own a gun to protect themselves (and others) from the shooters.
The answers lie not in what I want. The answers do not lie in what you want. The answer lies in what God’s will is. I am not all-knowing. Neither are you. No human being is all-knowing. Only God is all-knowing. So, we pray “thy will be done.” We can ask St. Lucy, patron saint of those with eye problems, to help us have the spiritual eyesight to see the world as God sees it.
In all of these issues, part of what is needed is that people stop looking at what must be done in terms of “what’s in it for me?”. We need to ask, “What can I do to help others?”
In all of these issues what is needed is genuine dialogue that puts other people before our own wants. We need genuine dialogue that seeks God’s Truth rather than winning the argument in favor of our own ideas. (For more on genuine dialogue I invite you to read my article, “Seeking Real Dialogue” on Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelii Tutti.)
People talk about tolerance. We need to be tolerant but we need to understand what tolerance is. (For more on tolerance, see my article, “Tolerance, Hate Speech, and Dialogue”.) It is not simply saying people can do whatever they want. Here I refer to a quote I read in The Little Blue Book Advent and Christmas Seasons 2021-2022: Six-minute reflections on the Advent/Christmas Season Weekday Gospels (published by the Diocese of Saginaw, 2021), found in the entry for December 10, 2021. The quote comes from Fr. Georges Pire. “Let us not speak of tolerance. This negative word implies grudging concessions by smug consciences. Rather, let us speak of mutual understanding and mutual respect.”
We have much to pray for in 2022. Perhaps we best start with praying for “mutual understand and mutual respect” between all people. Most of all, we pray that God’s will be done.
Fr. Jeff, I really enjoyed your article. Too bad a lot of people won’t see this that need to! Hope you are well.
Thank you Donna. Yes, only a few people may read the article on their own. I hope people who do read it will share it with others.