This is the season of gifts. During this season, we exchange a lot of gifts joyfully, we give them, we receive them. The greatest gift ever exchanged in human history is Christmas itself, God gifting His only Son to humanity. It is this Gift that we celebrate on the Christmas day. The second important gift during this season is the New Year. God in His abundant mercy and love provides us another year to love Him and to serve His children. As we know, life in its totality is a gratuitous gift from God. We do not deserve it, we have no claim over it. Everything in life is God’s free gift.
Human life is constituted by the totality of the time that is at our disposal. It is by giving us time that God sustains our life on earth. Therefore, time is the greatest gift that God gives us in life. At the threshold of every New Year, we are reminded of this precious gift of God. God gives us yet another year freely; God gives us time. What should be our Christian response to this precious gift? There is an interesting parable about a barren fig tree in the Gospel according to St. Luke. The fig tree has been nurtured for the past three years. But it never yielded any fruit. Finally the owner of the garden almost decides to cut it down. Why should the precious soil be wasted for this barren tree? But at the behest of the gardener, the owner has a second thought, to spare the fig tree one more year, to bear the fruit it ought to bear (Lk. 13: 6-9). The fig tree is given an additional year freely by the owner of the garden, so that the tree should bear fruit.
In fact every New Year has to be seen from the background of this Gospel passage. Just as the fig tree did not deserve another year of existence, rather it was the free gift of the owner of the garden, the New Year is gifted to us by God so that we may bear fruit through our life. In this sense, the New Year is a great responsibility on our part, it is an opportunity given by God in order to bear fruit. It is an invitation to take life seriously, to make the best use of all the opportunities that our life provides us.
As we step in to every New Year we must be overwhelmed by a deep sense of gratitude and indebtedness to God for the free gift of our time and of our life which is the totality of the time that is at our disposal. For our life, for all its varied experiences, for the time that is the basis for these experiences, we owe immensely to God and to all the realities around us which God permits to be part of our life.
This genuine sense of indebtedness for the free gift of life must prompt us to take our life seriously. Taking life seriously ultimately amounts to taking time seriously. Our life is fulfilled only through the responsible use of the time that is at our disposal. Every moment is precious. Therefore it would be s a sin to waste time – a sin against God who gives us freely our life and its time. Our life becomes meaningful only when we are able to enrich our surrounding and this universe through the proper use of our time. The goal of our life is to create as much goodness as possible in this world, primarily by loving and serving our brothers and sisters. That is why the Lord of life has given us freely this life and the time. Therefore as we welcome the New Year, let us resolve ourselves to make the best use of the time that the New Year provides us, not to waste even a single minute of our precious life. I wish all of you a very fruitful, grace-filled New Year.