"Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have
passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from
God. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not
counting their trespasses against them." - 2 Corinthians
We are in a month named after the Roman god Janus, an
appropriate personification of the start of a new year. Janus was
pictured with two faces so that he could look ahead toward the
future and back toward the past, both at the same time.
Like Janus, every year in this month named after him, we look
back at the mistakes we have made in the past year, and we look
forward to the improvements we hope to make in the coming year.
What is wonderful about a "new" year is the feeling that we can
start all over again and begin anew. What is wonderful about our
faith is that the ability to start over and begin anew is not just
a feeling, but a reality.
When we look back over the sins of the past year, we know that,
in God, we are forgiven and that we are given a new chance,
regardless of what we have done or failed to do.
Realizing that our sins and forgiven and forgotten, we know that
we can make a fresh start. We are used to people holding our
mistakes against us. They remember our sins and remind us of them,
maybe for years. With God, because he forgives and forgets, we can
make a new beginning. God does that for us every day, but January 1
is the day we remember it most clearly.
In Scripture, it seems that God is more concerned about our
learning from our sins than keeping count of them. He seems to want
us to admit our mistakes, not so that we will feel bad about making
them, but so we can make progress in overcoming them.
Devoid of introspection, stupid people keep repeating the same
mistakes over and over again - either because they deny them or
blame others for them - instead of owning them. Wise people admit
their mistakes easily. They know progress accelerates when they
Examination of conscience and confession of sins, a basic
tradition in the Christian faith has been misunderstood and even
ridiculed by our culture. We hear people cynically refer to
What they are talking about is "Catholic shame." "Guilt" says "I
have made a mistake." "Shame" says "I am a mistake." If the church
helps us feel "shame" because of who we are, that is bad. If the
church helps us feel "guilt" because of the evil we do, that is
One of the best things we can do going into the New Year is to
take stock of our lives and reflect on where we have been and where
we need to go. With God, no matter what, we can always begin again
any day of the year!