January 13, 2006

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Hope is the name of the New Year game

The new year has begun, and we’re filled with the hope offered by Christ’s birth. Who knows, maybe our next holiday newsletter will report genuine human progress.

President George Bush and Sen. Ted Kennedy take a vow to be blood brothers, cutting their fingers and smearing their blood together as boys do in this ritual.

U.S. Supreme Court nominees are approved or denied quickly on the sole bases of legal acumen, character and human wisdom, and they perform accordingly.

Saddam Hussein apologizes to the judge at his trial, admits his guilt and begs forgiveness of his victims. Israelis and Palestinians meet over kosher lamb dinners in the Gaza strip, ending the meal with toasts in appropriate beverages to their unity of purpose.

Franciscan guardians of Christian holy places in Jerusalem, along with their Muslim and Jewish neighbors, plan guided tours of the city’s various religious attractions. Profits from the tours will be used to maintain and improve the entire area.

Americans buy hybrid and other gas-conserving cars, ride bikes and walk wherever possible. They turn off air conditioning, electric appliances and water when not needed, cook from scratch at home and take notes when their grandparents explain how they managed to live just fine on one income. They do not move to Arizona to become champion landscapers.

The U.S. government comes up with an immigration plan that allows foreign workers to earn money for their impoverished families back home, while ensuring that tax-supported benefits are not entitlements given to non-American citizens. Everyone receives a living wage, including non-union employees.

Politicians remember their place in the constitutional system and the people they represent, and lose the attitude. They speak to each other with the expectation that they’re really being heard, and listen with respect and an open mind. Compromise and progress toward the common good ensue.

Pope Benedict XVI meets regularly with every variety of non-Christian. Together they discuss points of agreement, share meditation or prayer and engage in therapeutic schmoozing. God is not mocked, nor defined beyond recognition by any participant.

Parishes are families with God as Father, whose members, including the pastor, find emotional, spiritual and sometimes material support among their brothers and sisters. The Body of Christ is nourished, healed and inspired, and its members share these gifts with the wider community.

Parents remember that the privilege of free public education also entails a responsibility for them and their children to attend, work hard and follow rules. Parents know what their kids are up to at all times because they’re mostly home with them spending boring “down time” together. However, there’s no further need for a TV supernanny, cops or drug rehab.

The unemployed live decently, learn new skills and remain positive until they find work. The sick are patient in the face of their suffering, remembering that pain is redemptive through Christ’s example. The dying cheerfully examine memory and wait to see God.

Perhaps our 2006 letter will read this way. We can only hope.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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