It is easy to contemplate change in our natural environment and culture. We can look out the window on an autumn day and see the transformation taking place in the trees around us. Socially, we recognize how different events, people and moments change through time. Colleagues or close friends who once were part of our daily routines are no longer in our lives.
From a cultural vantage point, public spaces highlight this tendency for change in the festive decorations for different holiday celebrations — sometimes layering multiple events simultaneously. Before we finish celebrating Halloween or Thanksgiving, we treat ourselves to Christmas lights and carols. Our lives are replete with transitory events that span from mundane activities to occasions of profound connections with others.
Spiritually, we participate in similar passing moments, too. Our liturgical year guides us through transitions and symbols of transformation. We move from prayers and scriptural reflections appropriate to Ordinary Time, to the language of waiting found in the season of Advent, to the spirit of Christmas. And we do all this with little time in between. In some instances, our best intentions to find time for quiet reflection succumb to the daily demands coming our way.
Others before us have had similar transitory moments. Our sacred writings are quite direct in pointing to the reality of change before us. “For everything there is a season: a time to be born, and a time to die … a time to weep, and a time to laugh … a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing … a time to break down, and a time to build up … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8). While it may be easy to contemplate these cultural, social and spiritual moments, I suspect that accepting these different seasons isn’t always easy or the same for all. For some, accepting change means having to deal with feelings of profound loss; and for others, it means embracing with great enthusiasm the new horizons.
However, independently of personal reactions, we can find some shared solace and stability in knowing that the transformation before us is never far from the permanence we have in Christ. “So, we can say with confidence, ‘the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’ For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13: 6, 8). Jesus, then, has the power to hold us together, make us whole, and keep us moving forward. Moreover, as people of faith, we can recognize that our present world and its desires are passing away (1 John 2: 17) and know that God in Christ remains. “We have seen and do testify that the Father has sent His Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So, we have known and believe the love that God has for us” (1 John 4:14-16).
Let us hold on to the stability and firm conviction we have in Jesus. And, in the changing moments and seasons of sorrow, joy, mourning, laughter, and expectation, let us trust that the Lord embraces who we are and gives us what we need.
F. Javier Orozco
First published November 24, 2021 in the St. Louis Review