January 3, 2021
New Year – Second Sunday after Christmas – Mary, Mother of God
(Jeremiah 31:7-14; John 1:1-18)
Some of you have probably seen those little noise makers that are used at New Year's Eve parties. A rectangular box with knob on one side. They are also used in Judaism for the Feast of Purim. You hold the handle and you start spinning the Box around which causes a loud grinding noise. You might be more used to the less expensive aluminum version. Either way, they make a racket.
The device in Hebrew is called a rashan, which means noisemaker. It is more commonly known as a grogger, although I think noisemaker fits it the best. During the Feast of Purim when the name of Haman (sometimes called Haman the Evil), the man who tried to exterminate the Jewish people in ancient Persia (Book of Esther), is read, the groggers are turned. By using the grogger they would drown out the name of Haman. In this strange looking instrument of noise is a very profound principle that one should apply to life. Haman is a symbol of evil. The challenge is to overcome evil.
One could say, to some degree, that 2020 was an “evil” year. And how should we overcome evil?
If someone hurts you, you hurt them back? How about if someone hates you and you hate them back? You simply become bitter over what they did, so this certainly is not how you overcome evil. No. That's how you echo evil and perpetuate it. It certainly would go against what Jesus meant to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” Jesus meant for us to do good, not do bad. All you are doing is repeating the name of Haman. The grogger holds the secret to drowning out the name.
So, in a sense, when someone sins against you, you use a grogger. The secret of the grogger is that it deals with the sound of evil by producing its own sound, a different sound, and by doing so, it drowns out the sound of evil.
So how do you overcome evil in your life? By producing a sound, that which is not a reaction to evil, that which has an entirely other origin, an entirely different essence, and an entirely opposite spirit. You overcome evil by bringing forth its opposite. You bring forth good. You overcome hatred by bringing forth love. You overcome despair by bringing forth hope. And you overcome that which is negative by bringing forth positive. you overcome darkness by light, and by doing so you drown out all evil.
As we enter a new year, we should drown out the evil in our lives. The hatred of people with different skins tones, national origins, differing religions, different gender, different due to transgender or LGBTQ, different social class, different political beliefs – the list can go on. These hatreds should be drowned out by our groggers!
We are suffering another bad spread of Covid-19. As I write this, San Diego hospitals are at capacity due to Covid infections, yet many still refuse to wear a mask – that would not only protect themselves, but those around them. And now, there is a new strain of it that is even more contagious! Ugh!
Due to the heightened political arrogance and examples from politicians themselves, many people no longer have any common courtesy.
All of these are simply and plainly evil. We are making our own evil. We need to manifest more love, hope and positive energy. We need to be the United States again, not divided as we are. We were a civilized nation, and now we are turning in on ourselves.
For some, you may say I am being harsh. Possibly, but I do not think so. There is so much evil around us right now. It lightened for Christmas, but we need it to lighter even more. As I mentioned in my Christmas message, we need to bring the Light into our lives and that of others.
Many people make New Year’s Resolutions. Normally I don’t make them, at least not from a formal perspective, but I do look at the past year and look at things I want to improve on and try to start the New Year with those in mind. I encourage everyone to cultivate more love, hope and positive light in this coming New Year.
Take some time to sit quiet at some point the next few days, put concerns/mental occupations aside. Sit someplace quiet and alone, so as there are no distractions. Take a small journal/pad and pencil with you. Use the journal to write down things that are interrupting your quiet time, rather than dwell on the them. This works for me. My mind is now settled after writing them down, because it knows now it will not forget those interrupting items. Think of a favorite spiritual word that you can repeat quietly, it could be anything from Jesus, Mary, Eucharist, Holy, or even the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. [Some variations have Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.] Whatever you feel comfortable with.) Some even pray the Rosary!
In whatever form you choose, take that time to cleanse out all the “evil” or negative thoughts and impulses. Allow love, hope and positive energy fill you up and resolve to bring these and the light of Christ into the life of others. Get to a quiet higher spiritual realm where you can absorb some of the Holy Spirit’s energy.
Remember also, the love of Jesus was very radical. Even in a time of turmoil like we currently live in, the radical love of Jesus can reset evil to good. His love has no boundaries. His love is for literally every single person on earth – even all the “different” ones I mentioned earlier and more. And let us pray that the New Year to come will be a fresh start (starting with ourselves being more Christ-like), for the Covid-19 to come under control and a nation on the road to healing – physical, mental and political. This is my prayer. I hope it is yours! Let us spin our groggers and drown out the evil!
God Love You +++
And a Blessed New Year to you all!
++The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Chapel
San Diego, CA
We have been blessed by some of you who have generously given to help us keep the lights on ad the church and rectory insured - I couldn’t possibly express my gratitude enough! We are not completely out of the woods yet, so I continue to ask for donations and prayers! God Bless you all!