Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR HIS BLESSINGS FOR THE PAST YEAR AND WE ASK GOD TO BLESS OUR NEW YEAR
- Numbers 6:22-27
- Psalm 66: 2-3. 5. 6. 8. R. v. 2
- Galatians 4:4-7
- Luke 2:16-21
A Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God! Today we also celebrate the Octave Day (8th Day) of Christmas! On Christmas day our focus was on Jesus! On the 8th day of Christmas our focus is on Mary his mother! Today we also celebrate the World Day of Peace. But today we also celebrate New Year’s Day! A Happy New Year to all of you! For us Christians this is not just an empty greeting, but this is a prayer to God, calling God’s blessings on you for a Happy New Year! But before we ask for God’s blessings, let us thank God for all the blessings of this year!
When we thank God for his blessings and ask God for more blessings, let us not forget in the first place, God’s blessings in creation! The blessings of creation, life, nature, the trees, the rainforests, the fresh air, the sun, moon and the stars, the earth and its fruits, the waters and its fishes, etc.! We always remember the blessings of Salvation, love forgiveness, mercy, joy, peace, freedom, etc., that came after Original Sin, but we tend to forget the Original Blessings of Creation that came before Original Sin!
The first reading today from the Book of Numbers tells us that God blesses Israel through Moses and the Law! ‘May the Lord bless you and keep you! May the Lord let his face shine (smile) on you and be gracious to you! May the Lord uncover his face to you and bless you with his peace!’ Peace here can mean peace, prosperity and happiness, wholeness and well-being, and peace with God and peace with men!
The responsorial palm is a response to the first reading and is a prayer for God’s blessings! ‘O God, be gracious and bless us! Let the light of your face shine upon us! O God continue to bless us until the ends of the earth revere you!’
The gospel today tells us that through Mary, God has blessed us with His Son Jesus Christ! The gospel today tells that through Mary, God has become food (manger) for sinful men (shepherds) for their salvation (“Jesus” means “God saves”)! God has not only become man, but has become food for sinful man for their salvation! What blessings! What grace! What favor! How can we thank God enough for His blessings of Salvation, a blessing far surpasses his blessings of the Law, and his blessings of Creation!
Again, the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians tells us that through Mary, God blesses us with His Son Jesus Christ, so that we can be the sons and daughters of God, so that we can be the children of God! The second reading tells us that through Mary the Son of God has become the son of a woman, so that we sinners enslaved by the Law may become the sons and daughters of God!
God does this by giving us the Holy Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ so that we can cry “Abba (Dad), Father” to God! And as sons and daughters of God we are also heirs of God, inheriting his life, love and happiness! Again, what blessings, what graces, what favors! How can we thank God enough for his blessings graces, and favors!
Today in this Eucharist, we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, and the Risen Lord will continue to give us His Holy Spirit and bless us with his “sonship” and “salvation”! He will bless us with his peace, his love and his joy!
So once again, we thank God for all His blessings for the past year and we ask God to bless our New Year 2017! A Happy New Year to all of you and God bless you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.