SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ NUM 6:22-27; PS 90; JAMES 4:13-15; MT 6:31-34 ]

Every New Year is an auspicious day.  It is welcomed with great joy and celebration.  All are invited to celebrate and be happy.  Every New Year gives hope to humanity that the New Year would be better and happier than the previous year.   This is particularly true for the Lunar New Year.  In Asia where Lunar New Year is celebrated by different nationalities and races, it is celebrated with great festivity.  The newness of the New Year is signified by the wearing of new clothes and making everything new.  Houses are swept thoroughly and new curtains and decorations are put up.  The food items are all symbolic of the hopes of humanity – fertility, progress, prosperity, peace and happiness.

However, the New Year cannot bring real happiness and give a new beginning unless we are willing to leave the past behind.  The irony is that the things and customs that we do on Lunar New Year contradict what is happening in our lives.  If we want to be receptive to the newness of the New Year, then we must be ready to let go of our past, especially the mistakes that we have made and others have made.  So long as we continue to live in the past, condemning ourselves for our failures and our mistakes, regretting and lamenting our past, or blaming and holding resentment against those who have hurt us, disappointed or betrayed us, we will not be able to find real peace and happiness in the New Year.

The other group of people that cannot receive happiness and start a new beginning in the New Year are those who live forever in the future.  They are always worrying about tomorrow.  They live their lives in anxiety about the future.  They worry each day until they die.  When we keep worrying about the future, we cannot live the present fully.  This is what the Lord said.  “Do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all.”  We do not trust in God who will provide our needs.  Hence, such people are called pagans because they do not know that God is their heavenly Father.  As such, they only depend on themselves, and knowing how limited and fragile they are, they cannot but live in fear of the future, the unknown and the unseen.  There is no peace and security in this life.  So they try to hoard and build up their security nest, only to realize that nothing is predictable in life.

Indeed, there are two days in a year where nothing can be done, yesterday and tomorrow.  Yesterday is gone and will not come back again.  Tomorrow is yet to come.  We have only today.  That is why the Lord invites us to just focus on today.  He said, “Set your hearts in his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

But what did Jesus mean when He instructed us to live just for today?  Living just for today does not mean that we are to live irresponsibly without any thought for tomorrow.  This is precisely the attitude of worldly people today.  They just live only for themselves.  They want to enjoy as much from this world as possible.  They want to grab as much as they can because they believe that when they die, they will vanish from the face of this earth.  They have no responsibility towards the future generation, their country and their community.  Life is about themselves and not about the future of humanity.  So they live from day to day, enjoying all that we can each day.  They seek all the pleasures that this life affords.  They spend all they have and leave nothing for others.  This is an irresponsible life.  This is not what Jesus meant when He says that we should not worry about tomorrow but just live for today.

We must not forget the all-important command of Jesus when He prefaced this saying by reminding us to set our hearts “in his kingdom first, and on his righteousness”, and all these other things will be given to us as well.  In order to live responsibly day by day, we must first set our hearts on His kingdom of righteousness.  This is to say that we must be intent on building the kingdom of love, justice and peace on earth.  This involves right relationship with ourselves, with others and with God.  Unless we live a just life, a life that is honest, just, compassionate and gracious, we cannot say that we have live the day well.

When we live a just and honest life each day, then every other day will take care of itself.  Truly, if each of us would to act responsibly according to our vocation and state of life, according to the talents and opportunities that God has blessed us with, then why should we be worried about tomorrow?  If we have been studying diligently, why should we be afraid of exams?  If we have been preparing our projects, why should we be afraid of failure?  If we have been honest in our ways, why is there a need to be afraid that one day our crimes would be exposed?  If we have been faithful in our relationships, why should we be afraid when others gossip about us?

Indeed, if we live our life as faithfully and responsibly as we should, there is nothing to worry about tomorrow.   When tomorrow comes, we will be prepared.  We should only live for 24 hours each day.  However, we must make full use of this time given to us.  We must ensure that we live a holistic life, have a balanced lifestyle, time for work, for play, for relationships, for service and for God.  If we live every moment of our day fully and meaningfully, using it for our good and the good of others, then each day will provide us with joy and meaning.  By living today well, tomorrow will already take care of by itself.   The only reason why we should worry about tomorrow is because we have not lived fully for today.

Indeed, life is short.  Therefore, we must not squander our time, days, and opportunities for life away.   The psalmist says, “You turn men back into dust and say: ‘Go back, sons of men’. To your eyes a thousand years are like yesterday, come and gone, no more than a watch in the night.  You sweep men away like a dream, like grass, which springs up in the morning.  In the morning, it springs up and flowers; by evening, it withers and fades.  Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart. Lord, relent!  Is your anger forever? Show pity on your servants.”   Indeed, when we look at the butterfly, its lifespan is very short, but yet it flies joyfully everywhere, delighting the eyes and hearts of many.  So too, in the final analysis, it is not how long we live but how well we live.  Each moment in life when lived fully and joyfully is already enough for the day.

Our future is in the hands of God.  We do not have full control of our lives.  Man proposes, God disposes.  This is what St James told his people.  “Here is the answer for those of you who talk like this: ‘Today or tomorrow, we are off to this or that town; we are going to spend a year there, trading, and make some money.’ You never know what will happen tomorrow; you are no more than a mist that is here for a little while and then disappears. The most you should ever say is: ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we shall still be alive to do this or that.'”  Doing His will is what will give us peace and joy.

So we should ask God to bless us as the Lord instructed Moses.  “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”   Unless the Lord shows His face to us, we do not know how we should we live.  God has revealed His face to us in Jesus who shows us how to live each day of our life in faith and in love.  Like Jesus, if we simply learn to trust in our heavenly Father, we will be more at peace with ourselves.   “Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier, says St Teresa of Calcutta.   Indeed, the best medicine for humans is love.   If someone says, it does not work, then simply increase the dosage.  Let us therefore spread love and joy to everyone, and we will receive them as well.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved

Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
  • Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
  • Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
  • It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.

Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online, nor will they be available via email request.

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