Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
January 1st, 2011

Tom Shanahan, S.J.

University Relations and Theology
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Octave Day in Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and
The Naming of Jesus
Titular feast of the Society of Jesus
[18] Numbers 6: 22-27
Psalm 67: 2-3, 5, 6, 8
Galatians 4: 4-7
Luke 2: 16-21

January the first is a very special day.  It marks the beginning of a New Year (we’ll have to remember to put 2011 on our checks and letters instead of 2010!).  It is also the Octave of Christmas during which we have been challenged to “remember” the good things that God has freely given to us.  And, finally the day is set aside to honor Mary the Mother of God.

The “remembering” that we do is so much more than a nostalgic look back.  Memory in the context of a feast like today is a deeply spiritual activity that grows within us as women and men of faith, hope and love.  We remember how we are blessed by God.  At Christmas the blessing is purely and simply the fulfillment of the promise of God to enter fully into our lives to be healer, merciful and forgiving God.  God enters us personally in Christ Jesus, born of Mary as the God-man to take from us the bonds of sin, injustice, fear and harm that afflict us because of Adam’s sin.

The first reading from the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Numbers sets the tone for today’s celebration.  It recounts the words that God spoke to Moses:  “This is how you are to bless the Israelites.  Say to them:
          The Lord bless you and keep you!
          The Lord let his face shine upon
          You and be gracious to you!
          The Lord look upon you kindly and
          Give you peace!
          So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites
          And I will bless them.”

This  blessing  touches into our everyday experiences right at the center of our lives where we meet God-Who-Blesses.   “How have I been blessed?  Let me count the ways” to paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem.   New Years day can be highlighted for the resolves that we take upon ourselves (losing weight, curbing our appetites for food and drink, caring for others, and many other New Year’s Resolutions).   Might we highlight this year in our remembering the concrete ways that we are blessed each day.  To do that is to become at a deeper level of our lives a Eucharistic people – called into service by the many blessings that come our way.  Can we habitually count the blessings that are ours and thus give ourselves over to God as Jesus Himself did through his life, death and resurrection?

Today’s feast invites us there under the marvelous gaze of Mary, the Mother of God (and our Mother): to remember and to act as Jesus acted in obedience to his Father.  Mary’s motherhood is a beacon showing us the way to live our lives and to focus ourselves on her Son, Jesus.

Lord, help us to be blessings-counters as we begin this New Year and to keep our gaze constantly on The Christ who continues to call us into life and service.  Help us to keep open to our loving, forgiving, merciful God in the person of Christ Jesus.

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