January 1, 2023
Luke 2: 16-21
Filipinos usually start the New Year by making a number of resolutions. Some resolve to abandon their bad habits or foolish vices like drinking, gambling, smoking, and even womanizing. Others resolve to do better with the good they have been actually doing like showing acts of kindness, generosity, patience, and love. Today marks the beginning of a new year – a great year of favor from the Lord. How can we make this year a special one from the perspective of the great Jubilee Year? What special promises can we resolve to make in order for this year to be truly spiritual and fruitful? Our readings today suggest three things:
First, let us be peacemakers. The beautiful prayer of blessing given by the Lord to Moses brings the peace of the Lord to those granted it (Num 6: 22-27). This peace can be seen as an “empowering peace.” The peace received should be peace shared with others. In this sense, peace is not only a grace to console us, but also a task to be lived. In Jesus’ own words, “Happy are the peacemakers, they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Second, let us be genuine Christians. Paul teaches the Galatians the gift of Christian identity: that in and through Christ, they can call God, “Abba, Father,” and so are adopted sons and daughters of God, co-heirs of the Kingdom (Gal 4: 4-7). As baptized Catholics, we too are given this special identity: we are children of God, our loving Father. Moreover, being truly catholic means becoming authentic witnesses of the gospel. The greater challenge is when our identity is not only seen but also shown. Being genuinely Christian calls us to become the good news of Jesus Christ to others. In the words of Carlo Carretto: “We evangelize with our lives before we do so with our words. Anyone who reduces the gospel to a formula will be an efficient administrator, but a prophet, never. Jesus came to bring fire not the catechism to the earth. If we are content to catechize, without announcing the Good News in our own lives, we will find we are writing in the sand, which the wind of passion will carry away.”
Third, let us be praying and discerning disciples. The scene of the nativity centers on the baby Jesus lying on a manger. But it also shows Mary contemplating the birth of her Son as “she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Lk 2: 16-21) A striking quality of Mary’s motherhood and discipleship is her ability to be both prayerful and discerning. This invites us to be prayerful and discerning disciples of the Lord as we meet new challenges in our personal, familial, and communal lives. St. John Paul II realizes the urgency of this type of discipleship: “The Pope, like every Christian, must be keenly aware of the dangers to which man is subject in the world, in his temporal future, and in his final, eternal, eschatological future. The awareness of these dangers does not generate pessimism, but rather encourages the struggle for the victory of the good in every realm. And it is precisely from this struggle for the victory of the good in man and in the world that the need for prayer arises.”
This New Year and every year let us be peacemaking, witnessing, praying, and discerning disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ!
What special promises can you make for this year to be truly spiritual and fruitful?