First reading Numbers 6:22-27
They are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them
The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. 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.”
This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’
Responsorial Psalm 66(67):2-3,5,6,8
O God, be gracious and bless us.
O 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.
Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.
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.
Second reading Galatians 4:4-7
God sent his Son, born of a woman
When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons. 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.
Gospel Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found the baby lying in the manger
The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.
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.
On this first day of the New Year, the church invites us to take stock of the direction in which our lives are moving. Are we living to the full our privileged call to be disciples of Jesus, or are we perhaps just drifting, or attempting to compromise, attempting to supply our surface needs while neglecting the hunger and thirst experienced in our soul?
We turn to Mary, for, more that any other, she shows us, simply and beautifully, the essence of what it means to live in communion with Jesus. It is to live a life of love. Whatever happens to us in life, we are to respond in love.
She knew what it was like to experience fear and uncertainty in the face of the unknown. Trusting God, she said Yes to what she believed God was asking of her.
Is there any message we need to know that is more important than this?
So it is that in our own personal lives, and in our life as a Christian community, facing our own uncertainties, and part of the joys and sorrows, the successes and failures, the celebrations and disappointments, the grace and disgrace of our world, we look to Mary so that we will see Jesus through her eyes and learn from him what it is to love.
Fr Michael Fallon msc