May the Lord’s Face Shine On You
A Reflection for January First, Mary Mother of God
Readings: Numbers 6:22-27, Galatians 4:4-7, Luke 2:16-21,
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mery, Franklin, MA
The Psalm for the liturgy of New Years Day proclaims a message we all should be shouting from the rooftops, “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, How awesome are your works!”
When we couple that with the direction given in the first reading of the day from the book of Numbers chapter 6 verses 22-27 on how to greet people “You shall say to them: 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.”
We receive a direction of living our life in accordance with the teachings of Christ and therefore Almighty God. Our hearts should be filled with the knowledge and love that the King of Glory, Jesus Christ brought to this world. Was not just happenstance, but was part of God’s design from the very beginning of time.
As if to reinforce the truth, that we have all been chosen by God as his children and therefore heirs to the kingdom of heaven we have the words from the second reading found in Galatians 4: “The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.”
The Gospel tell us that the name chosen for the child was not a family mane but that it was given to the infant according to the instructions Mary received from the Angel Gabriel.
When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:22
Besides being the feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, today is also commemorated in the western church to celebrate the motherhood of Mary, “the Theotokos” in Greek meaning mother of God. The Gospel reading reminds us that Mary pondered all that had come to pass and also the things she was told would occur in her heart by the priest “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." Luke 2: 34-35.
There should be no doubt in anyone mind that Jesus is the promised one of the ages and as such we need to heed the things He has instructed us to do. We also have to keep in mind that through the centuries many things have been added to what Jesus instructed, mainly for the purpose of gaining power and wealth. Those things have very little to do with living our life according to God’s will. Celibacy of clergy was an idea that came many years after Christ, the early church had women deacons, the early church blessed same sex commitment ceremonies, liturgies were celebrated in the language of the people. These are just some of the things that churches enforce that were not defined by Christ.
All the grandeur, splendor, pomp and circumstance that is associated with some churches fly in the face of what Christ taught. By His birth in a simple manger alone; Christ gave us a lesson that He came to give hope and promise to all and that the poor and needy where more acceptable than the rich and powerful. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” this teaching should cause us to think about how we treat others and is it the same way that we would want to be treated?
Jesus Christ came to earth to save us, to open up the gates of heaven to all people. Almighty God sent us His son in human form to teach us the truth, to lead us in the path of righteousness, and to gain for us eternal salvation.
As we begin a New Year let us make a new beginning in our relationship with Almighty God through His beloved Son, Jesus the Christ. Let us vow to make the changes necessary in our lives so that we come closer to God in all that we do. Let us set aside time each and every day to acknowledge God and ask His help in making us a better and newer person. Let us examine way that we can actively make a difference by our actions and deeds. Can we be more compassionate toward those who are suffering from poverty, hunger, homelessness and serious illness? Can we do more to support the spreading of the Good News of Salvation preached by Jesus Christ? Can we make time in our schedules to pray and receive the bread of life, the Eucharist?
As the sports adage says; “The ball is in our court” how are we going to play it?
May the New Year bring peace to the hearts and minds of all people, May the wisdom of God infuse the inner being of all especially the leaders of the worlds governments and religions so that they find a pathway to peace and unity and bring about the promise of The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. AMEN