Protopresbyter Themistoklis Mourtzanos
At the turn of the year, it’s customary to take stock. We look back at what’s happened, the pleasant and the difficult, the beautiful and the ugly, in an effort to consign to oblivion whatever hurt us, and to hold dearly in our heart what has brought us ease and joy. The reckoning has to do with the events of the calendar year which has passed, in politics, in sport and the special moments of our life. The question is, how do we evaluate, in the end, what’s important to us and what isn’t. Are there events we can relive or is everything unique?
The ancient philosopher Heraclitus said that you can’t step into the same river twice, because the moment can’t be repeated. Sometimes, however, oblivion can be a blessing. It conceals our wounds, but doesn’t expunge them. This is why the old saying that time’s the best healer isn’t true, because every injury leaves small wounds on the body and soul and these trouble us in various ways, depending on the circumstances of our life. The point at issue is to what extent we can evaluate our moments, mature through them, make fresh starts, not be overcome by our defeats, and seek God’s help, not in order to forget, but to learn who we are and what we have.
This may be a different kind of stock-taking. Who were important for us in the year which is ending? Did we make new friendships, strengthen old ones, did we sort out what troubles us, what unites us, what hurts us, what makes us feel lonely and what brings us together? A relationship isn’t a new romantic experience or fling. A relationship is when we can study the other person as regards their character, their gifts, can give them something of ourselves, can forgive them for their shortcomings and pray that they’ll forgive us for our own. A relationship is to be able to see the image of God in the other person and this is a positive step because it gives us another sense of direction, other than ourselves, and makes us feel that we’re worth being part of ‘us’.
For the Church, the year is time, that is, an opportunity, on the one hand, to serve the Lord, to live in accordance with Christ’s commandments, to attend the liturgy, to make our way in praise, thanks and love towards God who became human for our sake. And on the other hand, to serve others, to care about each of our neighbors, to become the neighbor of every person, insofar as we can. For this reason, in our church life, in the parish we go to, we should bear this reckoning in mind, so as to remember in the first place how many of our fellow-parishioners we’ve got to know, how many we pray for, how many we feel more familiar with. And also whether we’ve opened our heart to our surroundings, if we’ve managed to listen, to empathize, to reduce tensions, to overcome ourselves.
And if we fall short, let’s not lose heart. We’re not alone in time. There’s also God, who accompanies us and fortifies us to make a start of repentance and love.