With 2019 speeding to a close, leaving in its wake a trail of death and destruction, both manmade and natural, Trinidad and Tobago will certainly look forward to turning the page, to gazing upon a new year with hope and optimism.
For us as pilgrim people, the New Year begins as an empty slate with nothing but a sense of infinite possibilities and boundless hope. But the year will soon be filled with activities, promises and commitments, pleasures and disappointments, and a General Election constitutionally scheduled for the latter half of 2020.
While most people seem to have given up on New Year’s resolutions, having found them either impossible to keep or a trivial idea in the first place, there’s something about the New Year that can be inspirational.
It’s the quintessential time to make necessary and beneficial changes. A new calendar can be just as powerful a motivating force as a new job, a new relationship, a new home. The prospect of the new year is as bright as the light that shines through our new $100 blue notes.
It can also be a good time to break with harmful patterns of the past; to release grudges and forgive others; to move on.
For the Holy Family whose feast we celebrate today, it must have also been a time of great fear and uncertainty, and yet, a time to trust in God and obey His promptings, in order to ensure survival.
There is no doubt today that the family is under threat in Trinidad and Tobago. Indeed, the traditional concept of family is now threatened by the fluidity of gender roles and increasing demands for acceptance by those who espouse non-traditional lifestyles.
The family is under threat from those who seek to exploit the poverty in which others live, and by circumstances which conspire to force parents and guardians to sacrifice long held values on the altars of safety and security. For many in our communities, Herod is real, and threats to the physical safety of the family are even more so.
To whom should these families flee, if not to us, as Church, who hold the Holy Family as our model. The truth is though, that we must fix our Catholic families first.
Our children are losing interest in Church not only because of uninspiring homilies, inappropriate hymns and inhospitable environments, but because we too have lost our zeal; our salt has lost its flavour.
The Herods of unchecked modern technological use, sexual scandals, and the resulting broken trust are all conspiring to threaten the lives of our children and our families.
The challenge to the Church in 2020 is to create a safe space where our families can find refuge, where our children can grow in wisdom and stature, and where peace can prevail.
The challenge to the Church in 2020 is to not be mere participants in the discourse on the future of family life, but to champion the discourse that would lead to the creation of increasing numbers of holy families.
Just as Joseph trusted in the voice of God speaking to him, so too may we find men and women in our Church, willing to listen and obey the voice of God in 2020.