The liturgical year begins on the First Sunday of Advent. The new year based on the solar calendar begins on Jan. 1. The lunar new year begins with the TET celebration. Recently, Archbishop Paul Coakley celebrated TET at Masses with two Vietnamese communities in Oklahoma City: on Feb. 1 at Saint Andrew Dung Lac parish and on Feb. 2 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The following is the text of the archbishop’s homily for the TET celebration at Saint Andrew Dung Lac parish.
It is a great pleasure to be with you to celebrate the TET holiday again this year. It is such a joy to share in this beautiful celebration of our Catholic faith expressed in and through the richness of the Vietnamese culture. I am very happy to wish you and your families all of the blessings and prosperity that God can bestow upon you in this New Year!
Christ is the beginning and the end of history. All things are created through him and all things are destined to find their fulfillment in Him. He is the Word through whom God creates and redeems the universe, and through whom God directs all events according to His wise and loving purposes! This assurance gives us great hope and consolation during times of difficulty, confusion and sorrow. The events of our lives are not random, but governed and redeemed by Christ through God’s saving will and loving Providence
Over the centuries, the great cultures and civilizations of the world have developed many different ways of marking the passage of time. Traditionally, these various calendars and ways of measuring time have been based upon careful observations of the movements of the great heavenly bodies: the sun and the moon, whose creation we hear about in today’s first reading from the Book of Genesis. In whatever way we might measure the beginning and ending of each passing year, that is, whether according to a solar or a lunar calendar, our Catholic faith affirms that all time belongs to Christ! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!
For us believers, therefore, the celebration of the New Year is an occasion of great hope and spiritual joy. We see God’s hand and loving Providence at work to renew his blessings among us. Saint Paul urges us in today’s second reading, saying: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” That joy should be especially apparent today, as we celebrate the beginning of a New Year! We do not think of time or history as an endlessly repeating cycle of events without meaning or purpose or direction. God has a plan for the world which he created and redeemed in Christ. God has a plan for our lives; for yours, and for mine. Therefore, as Saint Paul says: “Have no anxiety at all!”
In the Gospel, Jesus urges us not to worry about the future! Look at how God provides for all of the creatures on the face of the earth! He cares for all of creation: the beasts and the plants. And how much more precious are we in his sight? We do not know what tomorrow may bring, but we are called to live by faith and that means to live in hope and confidence of God’s continued loving providence and care for each of us today, tomorrow and every day.
I don’t know if it is a custom with TET, but in the American culture the New Year is the occasion for making new resolutions. As we begin this New Year let us resolve to turn toward Christ and learn from him. Let us live at peace with one another, letting go of all fear and mistrust. Let us resolve to forgive one another of past injuries as Christ has forgiven us. Let us resolve to be patient with one another’s weaknesses and failings, as Christ is patient with us. Let us rejoice in the Lord always! If we resolve to live in this manner the peace of Christ will dwell here in this parish, and in your homes, and in your hearts.
As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist this morning let us give thanks to God for the blessings of the year just completed. With renewed hope and confidence let us entrust the year before us to God’s loving Providence. May the Lord bless you and all of your loved ones in the New Year!