The reflection below is written by Isaac Chandler and excerpted from our Advent-Christmas 2020 reflection booklet, I Say to You: WATCH! Reflections for Advent and Christmas 2020. Isaac is the National Council Chair of Pax Christi USA. He is a high school biology teacher and has served as a member of the Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Team.
reflection for new year’s day, the world day of peace,
the solemnity of mary, january 1, 2021
by Isaac Chandler
May God look upon you kindly and give you peace! (Nm 6:26)
Two positive and uplifting messages remind us that we are descendants of a mighty and merciful God and one worthy of our praise. What a perfect time to be reminded of our glorious inheritance of being favored descendants than the first day of a New Year! 2020 may go down as one of the most contentious, frustrating, and uncomfortable years we’ve ever experienced. A global pandemic, racial strife and disparity, mixed and false messaging, police brutality, protests, wildfires, floods, economic distress, lack of confidence in our voting and justice systems, and all of it under the auspices of “moral leadership”. Through it all, we have received the greatest gift of all. The gift of LIFE! If you are reading this, then you can say that you are ALIVE! You have lived through this period of hardship and struggle and a new day is upon us with new opportunities for growth and change. Look at this day as a new and blessed beginning to create long and lasting change.
2020 was also the year that we lost great champions of peace and justice: Lina Ben Mhenni, Phyllis Lyon, Stacy P. Milbern, Revs. C.T. Vivian and Joseph Lowery. However, despite their passing, we know that there is still much work to do, and what better way to serve our God than to continue to work for the goal of peace with justice.
One of the voices of peace we lost this year, John Lewis, made this memorable quote: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year. It is the struggle of a lifetime.”
Yes, despite the trying times of 2020, we must continue the struggle for peace and justice. If one looks close, there are signs of hope. People from all walks of life are coming together to speak up and speak out on multiple injustices; a number of movements are organizing with young people of color taking the lead and whites helping to provide a visible platform for grievances to be heard; people are getting out of their comfort zones to have those “uncomfortable” conversations about race, gender, sexuality, and class. Despite the global pandemic, Mother Earth appears to be recovering with cleaner air and water; even Mother Nature in the aftermath of devastating fires is seeing a boost in the populations of various species of woodpeckers, whose healthy populations help support thousands of other species.
2020 has given us much to take stock of and reflect on, but it also began to plant seeds for future growth and change for the betterment of our beloved community.
What can you do in 2021 to inspire hope and create lasting change?