New Year, new ‘you’


By Sarah Callahan
Gray Space Graces


New year, new me! This is the year I take control of my life! Become unrecognizable by 2025! These are all hymns that I’ve heard sung throughout social media in the last few weeks. If I am being honest, I’ve never loved New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I think it’s all the pressure to feel particularly reflective, exceptionally motivated, and to set a whole year’s worth of unattainable goals.

The expectations are overwhelming — to each day remember to drink enough water, read for fun, spend time with loved ones, volunteer, exercise, practice self-care, study the Bible, go to church, pray, journal, exceed all expectations at work, eat healthy, learn a new hobby … the list goes on. These practices are all good things to do, but most are primarily inward focused. The good felt from each of these activities is mostly for the person doing them. I’d like to suggest some alternative goals that we can all have for ourselves this year, because perhaps to become the best version of ourselves we have to go out from ourselves and focus on others.

This year, instead of setting goals that the world tells us we should have: climb the ladder, make your body smaller, make more money, buy a bigger house, etc., we can lean deeper into what the Gospel calls us to. Jesus gives us plenty of examples, through his words and actions, of resolutions to strive for this year. Jesus healed people, dined with those on the margins of society, comforted the outcast and made friends with those who had few to none.


In the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in the Gospel of Luke, we find his mission. When choosing a passage to preach on, he selects the scroll of Isaiah and reads the passage, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” He continues by stating, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus chose this passage specifically to mark the beginning of his public ministry, to serve as a foundation and preview of what was to come. He came to accompany those who are put down. Should we not have our goals and resolutions reflect him?

Our Catholic tradition also gives us much inspiration for goals this year. As Catholics, we are called to have a preferential option for the poor. The Catechism explains this, “the Church’s love for the poor… is a part of her constant tradition. This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. … Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2444, 2448, quoting Centesimus annus, no. 57, and Libertatis conscientia, no. 68)

So, what does this mean for us in this new year? Perhaps rather than committing to self-improvement, we can commit to working for the improvement of others’ lives. We can commit to serving weekly or monthly at a soup kitchen, join a climate justice group and seek encounters with those we would not normally meet. Maybe when we place our focus on others we will notice the growth in ourselves.

(Sarah Callahan is social media coordinator for the Diocese of Davenport.)

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