Daily Reflection
January 1st, 2002
Andy Alexander, S.J.
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
The Naming of the Jesus - Feast of the Name of the Society of Jesus
World Day of Peace
Excerpts from Message of Pope John Paul II for World Day of Peace
"No Peace without Justice; No Justice without Forgiveness."
Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21

There are so many "movements" going on  in our hearts on this New Year's Day.  In our secular world, there is great revelry over the turning of the calendar page, the movement from one year to another.  We make "resolutions" to represent a sense of a "new beginning."  This day marks some kind of end to our Christmas "break" and, at least in the U.S., it is a day for football.

As the list of names for this day suggests, this is a very special day in our lives of faith.  And, as the link above indicates, I've been moved by John Paul II's reflection for this day, on the power of forgiveness, and its role in the promotion of justice.  I can't improve on his perspective and depth, so I share both some key excerpts and a link to the full text.

But, today's simple readings can draw us into the mystery of what we each need and what might be "Salvation" for all of us on this holy day.

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!
God gave this blessing to Moses to give to Aaron, to use in blessing all the people.  It is consoling to let this blessing roll over me today.  I imagine, that for a number of reasons, not the least of which is September 11's transformation of our world, the year 2001 was a difficult one for many of us.  We all can find comfort in this blessing.  We can slowly memorize it and use it to bless our children, our spouses, our parents and loved ones today.
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger....

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart....

When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.

It is wonderful to have this brief image of Mary, holding and treasuring all the moments of her/our sacred story and reflecting upon them - not in her head, but "in her heart."  Perhaps we can honor her most today by our taking some time to look back at the events in our past week since Christmas.  Maybe we can see them more clearly as part of our life in Jesus - from the manger to the cross. 

Finally, we come to the naming of Jesus.  Matthew tells us that the angel told Joseph to name him Jesus, "for he will save his people from their sins."  On this special day - dedicated to peace, to Mary, to new beginnings - let's quietly and devoutly open our hands, and our hearts, and say, "Jesus, save me."  Let's let it contain, sum up, capture, all our needs, all our poverty, all our desire, all our confident faith.  On this first day of a new year, let's begin by asking Jesus to save us, to be with us, to draw us into to his own life of surrender to God, in service of others.

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