Theme: THANK GOD FOR THE YEAR 2019 AND ASK GOD TO BLESS US FOR THE YEAR 2020
- 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 3 feasts; today we celebrate New Year’s Day; we also celebrate the liturgical feast of Mary, Mother of God; and today we also celebrate World Day of Peace!
The first thing and the most important thing we must do for the New Year 2020 is to thank God for the Year 2019 and ask God to bless us for the Year 2020!
Indeed, the readings today are suitable for the feast of Mary, Mother of God and for the New Year!
The first reading is the Priestly Blessing for the people of Israel. Today the Church uses this blessing to bless you for the New Year 2020:
“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 (show favor) to you and bring you peace (“shalom”: wholeness, well-being, happiness and prosperity/HCSB/CSB).”! (Nb 6:24-26)
This blessing is suitable even for Chinese New Year: “Happiness and Prosperity”!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The response of the responsorial psalm echoes the first reading: “O God, be gracious and bless us.”! (Ps 66:2) In the responsorial psalm we do not only ask God to bless us; but we ask God to bless us, so that other peoples may see God’s blessings on us; and so that other peoples will also praise, worship, and serve God; and so that other peoples will also be blessed by God!
Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm: “God, be gracious and bless us and let your face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your saving help.”! (Stanza 1 / Ps 66:2-3) “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him.”! (Stanza 3 / Ps 66:6.8.)
But most importantly, the gospel tells us that the Lord God through Mary, the Mother of God has blessed us with his Son Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, who has become food for us to give us life! A life that is even better than before we sinned! A life filled with love, mercy and forgiveness! A life full of grace, favor and blessings! Even without our asking!
The gospel tells us that Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19), that is, Mary accepted to be the Mother of God in and with faith! Mary did not understand everything! Mary had to grow in faith! Mary is a model of faith for all of us!
The gospel also tells us that when Jesus was circumcised he was named Jesus (Joshua), which means “God saves”! (Lk 2:21)
But how did Jesus save us? By becoming food for us so that we may live! Thus the gospel tells us for the third time that he was laid in a manger (Lk 2:7.12.16), that is, the place where the animals feed, that is, he has become food for us!
Finally, the second reading tells us that God through his Son Jesus Christ has given us the Holy Spirit, so that we too may become the sons and daughters of God, and God becomes our Father, and Jesus becomes our brother, and the Church founded by Jesus becomes our Mother! What a blessing! We do not want or need anything more and we do not want or need anything less!
Again, today we thank God for all the blessings of 2019 and we ask God to bless us for the Year 2020! Again, a Happy New Year to all of you! Amen!
Today we also celebrate “World Day of Peace”! In 2007, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has a special message for us and for the whole world! The theme of the message is “The Human Family, A Community of Peace”! The message is very long (5 pages) and technical, but I will only highlight 3 points to you, that is, the family, the environment, and the poor! The following are extracts from the message:
THE HUMAN FAMILY, A COMMUNITY OF PEACE
The family, society and peace
2. The natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love, based on marriage between a man and a woman, constitutes “the primary place of ‘humanization’ for the person and society”, and a “cradle of life and love”. The family is therefore rightly defined as the first natural society, “a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order”.
3. Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. It is no wonder, therefore, that violence, if perpetrated in the family, is seen as particularly intolerable. Consequently, when it is said that the family is “the primary living cell of society”, something essential is being stated. The family is the foundation of society for this reason too: because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace. It follows that the human community cannot do without the service provided by the family. Where can young people gradually learn to savour the genuine “taste” of peace better than in the original “nest” which nature prepares for them? The language of the family is a language of peace; we must always draw from it, lest we lose the “vocabulary” of peace. In the inflation of its speech, society cannot cease to refer to that “grammar” which all children learn from the looks and the actions of their mothers and fathers, even before they learn from their words.
The family, the human community and the environment
7. The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop its proper relationships. For the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all. Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow.
Family, human community and economy
10. The human family, which today is increasingly unified as a result of globalization, also needs, in addition to a foundation of shared values, an economy capable of responding effectively to the requirements of a common good which is now planetary in scope. Here too, a comparison with the natural family proves helpful. Honest and straightforward relationships need to be promoted between individual persons and between peoples, thus enabling everyone to cooperate on a just and equal footing. Efforts must also be made to ensure a prudent use of resources and an equitable distribution of wealth. In particular, the aid given to poor countries must be guided by sound economic principles, avoiding forms of waste associated principally with the maintenance of expensive bureaucracies. Due account must also be taken of the moral obligation to ensure that the economy is not governed solely by the ruthless laws of instant profit, which can prove inhumane.
I likewise invite believers to implore tirelessly from God the great gift of peace. Christians, for their part, know that they can trust in the intercession of Mary, who, as the Mother of the Son of God made flesh for the salvation of all humanity, is our common Mother.
From the Vatican, 8 December 2007
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