HAPPINESS AND PEACE IN THE NEW YEAR
January 1, 2014
Today’s readings: Nm 6:22-27; Ps 67:2-8; Gal 4:4-7; Lk 2:16-21
Happy new year! And so we greet each other at the start of each new year. And as usual, we hope for better times. For those who still pray, we may say, “May God be gracious to us and bless us; may his face shine upon us.” (Ps 67:2).
I do not want to be the party pooper at the start of a new year, but sorry, we will have more of the same. This year we will still experience extreme poverty for many of the world’s peoples, war and death in many nations, injustice, corruption, the holocaust of the unborn, marriage and family break-ups, assaults on religious freedom, deadly natural calamities, and so on. All will seek and hope for peace but will not find it.
Why? This is because the basic situation of peoples in the world has not changed. Most are still not right with God. We do the same things and expect there to be positive changes? Never happens that way. Though we are children of God, we are enslaved by the world and the devil.
How do we get out of this situation? How can we truly have a happy new year? Well, God has already acted. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption.” (Gal 4:4-5). That is the Christmas we just celebrated a week ago. We need to realize what God has already done. We need to meet the Son God sent. His name is “Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Lk 2:21b).
It is Jesus who came into the world, then went to the cross, and by his death and resurrection ransomed us from slavery to sin and the devil, thus restoring us to the Father. Jesus won the victory, broke the chains of our slavery, and won for us our salvation. “So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.” (Gal 4:7). And if an heir, then we inherit the blessings of the Kingdom.
Jesus did what was needed. What we in turn need to do is to respond. We need to accept the salvation already won for us. We need to accept the Savior and call upon the name of the Lord. How can that happen? People need to meet Christ, and from then start to live Christ. How can that happen? Those who are already his disciples need to share Christ. “So shall your way be known upon the earth, your victory among all the nations.” (Ps 67:3).
Jesus needs to rule over our lives, for he is our God and King. We can only have a happy new year if we allow Jesus to reign. It is Jesus who brings justice and guidance on how to live our lives on earth. “May the nations be glad and rejoice; for you judge the peoples with fairness, you guide the nations upon the earth.” (Ps 67:5). It is not the United Nations that can bring peace and justice upon the nations, as indeed it has already become an agent for the culture of death. It can only be Jesus.
So people have to meet and know Jesus and accept him and his salvation. They need to live his way of life, which is the way of justice and peace. Thus will they experience being blessed. This has always been God’s way. “So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Nm 6:27). For people to meet and live Christ, his disciples need to share Christ. They need to evangelize, proclaiming the good news of salvation in him. When people hear about and encounter Jesus, great things happen. The shepherds at his birth “made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.” (Lk 2:17-18). The story of Jesus is amazing. We must share the good news of Jesus to all. Our goal is for people to accept him as Savior and Lord. “May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you!” (Ps 67:4,6).
When peoples and nations acknowledge the kingship of Jesus over them, and live accordingly, then they will be blessed and they will prosper. “The earth has yielded its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.” (Ps 67:7). When Jesus’ disciples do the work of worldwide evangelization, they will not only bring blessing to others, but they too will be greatly blessed. “May God bless us still; that the ends of the earth may revere him.” (Ps 67:8).
So you want to be blessed? You want to experience peace? You want to have a happy new year? You want health, prosperity, friendship, general well-being? No, your round fruits will not do it. There is only one way: go live and share Christ.
“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!”
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God bless you all.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)