Numbers 6:22 -27. Luke 2: 16 – 21
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the
manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them
about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But
Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they
had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name
the angel had given him before he was conceived.
A monk was delivering a long sermon on how to be happy in life. After his talk all his
congregation left the auditorium except one young man who was standing there staring
at the monk. The monk asked him what he wanted. The man said, ‘would you please
tell me, ‘what should I do to be happy for life?’ The monk in a calm tone replied, ‘Just
love your life as it is.’
This may seem simple advice, but it is not so simply to follow. Many people today have
made their careers and work the most important aspect of their lives. They have distorted
the natural order of things, and have surrendered themselves to a life of disorder. Their
lives are imbalanced, unfulfilled, and increasingly unhappy.
Like anything worth achieving, a life of balance and order comes only through effort.
Some people try to juggle randomly all the elements of their lives without assigning a
priority to each of them, and then they constantly wonder if they will ever achieve the
better life – the happy life, the balanced and ordered life, they sense deep down they are
capable of. To achieve this with any consistency requires a systematic approach. It
requires a plan, a pattern, or a schedule.
Love my life as it is? When we think of this kind of advice many can’t help but feel
hurt, especially when we reflect on our past and the future, as we bid goodbye to 2021
and welcome the New Year 2022. True, we may be happy in this last year if we were
spared from accidents, illness, deaths, and that we will live to see and experience another
year. We are happy that, despite all our blunders, unhealthy habits and misbehavior, so
much has been forgiven, not punished. We are overwhelmed with joy that, despite all
prophecies and predictions of doom and terror, the place in which we live has so far
been kept in balance between war and peace, disaster and prosperity, crime and sanctity,
violence and kindness, and terrorism and charity. We indeed at this time of the year feel
very grateful, to all the good things of the past year. We are thankful to our loved ones,
parents, friends, leaders, teachers, preachers and even our enemies. Above all, we feel
truly grateful to the Lord Most High for His wonderful providence over us at the
beginning of New Year.
However, others feelings too subdue us, about the demise or separation of our loved
ones, the loss of possessions, and other difficult trials of the past year. We feel sad that
we missed good opportunities to improve, to gain, to do good; we are sorry that we hurt
our friends and relatives, for making wrong decisions; we feel unhappy for the dreams
and plans that were not realized or ended up in failure. Undoubtedly, we are anxious
and fearful about the future of this coming year. We ask certain questions with anxiety:
Will my dreams and plans be accomplished? Will my fate, my trials, great upheavals
like the pandemic, continue in the New Year? What about my family issues – the
irritable habits of my husband, the stubborn temperament of my wife, the unpredictable
behaviour of my children and so on. Now we ask the monk, in the midst of the chaotic
experiences of life – how can we ever love it as it is?
On this earth we will always have many concerns. Some we should pay attention to,
others we ought to renounce. The world in which we live often reflects the splendor or
the Divine, yet it does not take much for us to become blinded to the wonder of God
displayed in the everyday. Despite the setbacks this life can bring, despite the problems
that fill our world, it is a wonderful place and it is to be loved and cherished by us all.
Life was made by God, and therefore it is good.
How do we see the Divine, the goodness of life, despite the trials, difficulties and sins of
the world around us and of those within our own lives? The Lord directs us through His
powerful Word to great resources of blessings. In the Book of Numbers, God gives
Moses and Aaron the formula they should use while conferring the Divine blessing upon
the Israelites: “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you
peace”. Psalm 67, begs for the blessing of God, saying, “May God have pity on us and
bless us; may He let His face shine upon us.”
If we want to be blessed by God, we must turn to our elders, our moms, our dads, our
teachers, and our religious leaders, for God has entrusted such wonderful authority and
responsibility to us weak and vulnerable humans. In the Bible we see how Isaac
received God’s blessings from his father Abraham; Jacob’s from Isaac, while Esau wept
for missing those blessings; Moses and Aaron were the great patriarchs through whom
God blessed His people in the desert. Later, Aaron’s clan members were vested with
such power of blessings.
With faith, we become a blessing to each other, and God blesses each of us through one
another. Jesus, our friend, is an eternal gift of blessing. Mary, the Mother of God, stands
near us always to shower blessings upon us. That’s why on New Year’s day we celebrate
the feast of Mary as the Mother of God and of the Church. The Word made flesh is the
greatest source of God’s blessings, and Mary was the first human person filled with all
the blessings of God. Through her son, through her status as our Mother, she is deeply
concerned about us. We see this in her apparitions, appearing often to small children and
the most humble of servants, sharing her concern for us and warning us of coming trials
and the end of time. Both the Son and the Mother are very anxious about our welfare.
To bring all these thoughts together, I conclude with several ways that come to my mind
for how we can make this new year meaningful. We must first have something to dream
of – a noble plan of action, that we set out with each day of this year, remembering the
proverb “Cherish your yesterdays, dream your tomorrows, but live your today.” But
more than something to dream, we must have something to do. Our time is a gift, it is
most valuable and most limited. It is to be used in fruitful endeavours, or else it is
wasted. We must not be a barren fig tree, nor barren branches in God’s vineyard, but
fruitful. Each day we have a marvelous opportunity to achieve something new,
something meaningful. I remember whenever I met Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata in
her homes for the destitute and dying, she would always tell me, ‘Do something
beautiful to God each day’. That’s how she lived her simple, ordinary humble life,
serving the poorest of the poor, desiring to do good for others and loving everyone.
But even more than dreaming and doing, we must find someone to love and care for.
This becomes easy when we make God the center of our life and realize His presence in
all the people around us. Saint Mother Teresa also said, ‘Let us light a candle instead of
blaming the darkness around us’. Just as the moon borrows the sun’s light to illuminate
the earth, we too must radiate the Light of God shining within us. Do you see that every
person you encounter in your day-to-day life is a ‘Sacrament’? This is so, if we know to
see the face of God in others. With this attitude in mind and heart, it becomes easy to
love everyone, to appreciate and acknowledge goodness in everything.
Let us pray this prayer of Dag Hammarskjod: “Lord, for all that has been, Thanks! For
all that will be, Yes!” and this as well: “Give me a pure heart that I may see Thee, A
humble heart that I may hear thee A heart of love that I may serve Thee, A heart of Faith
that I may abide in Thee.”