Theme: MARY, MOTHER OF GOD THROUGH WHOM WE ARE BLESSED WITH JESUS OUR SAVIOR
- Numbers 6:22-27;
- Psalm 66:2-3. 5. 6. 8. R/ v. 2;
- Galatians 4:4-7
- Luke 2:16-21
1. A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the Octave Day of Christmas, that is, the eighth day of Christmas! Like Easter, Christmas is an important feast. That is why we celebrate it in eight days! But Christmas season does not end here! It continues up to Epiphany (5th January) and the Baptism of the Lord (12th January)!
Today we also celebrate New Year’s Day! The first and most important thing to do on New Year’s Day is to thank God for the many blessings of the past year and to ask God to continue to bless us with even more blessings for the New Year!
That is why the first reading today tells us about the Priestly blessing or the Aronite (Aaron) blessing, that is, the Priests are to bless the people with these words:
“May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.” (Nb 6:24-26; Sunday Missal (SM))
That is, May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show favor to you and bring you peace, well-being, wholeness, prosperity, happiness, shalom, salvation.
2. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. In the responsorial psalm we ask God to bless us so that others may see God’s blessings on us and in us and come to worship our God! Thus we responded three times:
“O God, be gracious and bless us.” (Ps 66:2; SM)
And thus 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.” (vv. 2-3; SM)
“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.” (vv. 6-8; SM)
3. But more importantly, today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! We celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God because it is through Mary that we are blessed with Jesus our Savior! That is what the gospel today tells us in today’s liturgy! Thus the caption of the gospel today:
“They found Mary and Joseph and the babe …. When the eighth day came, they gave him the name Jesus.”
4. But most importantly, the second reading tells us that it is through Jesus that we are blessed with the Holy Spirit and we become the sons and daughters of God and brothers and sisters to one another! Brotherhood, Sisterhood, Fraternity!
5. Today we also celebrate World Day of Peace! And our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has a special message not only for us but for the whole world! And the message is themed: “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace.”
The Pope tells us in his message that we were created to be brothers and sisters with Adam and Eve as our father and mother, but we did not live up to our calling. We fight and kill each other as Cain killed Abel.
But more importantly, the Pope tells us that God our Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to save us! And it is through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ that he gave us the Holy Spirit making us into sons and daughters of God our Father and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ!
And this brotherhood and sisterhood, this fraternity is the foundation and pathway to peace! The pope’s message is very long. It consists of ten sections. We should at least read sections two ( “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9)) and three ( “And you will all be brothers” (Mt 23:8))!
Again, a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Again, today New Year’s Day we thank God for the many blessings of the past year 2022 and we ask God to continue to bless us with even more blessings in the New Year 2023, especially with the blessings of Peace, Shalom, Salvation! Amen!