The Jewish New Year is calculated according to a different calendar. However, NEW Year is celebrated. Now, I wonder when ‘New Year Resolutions’ were invented – and why? The ‘why’ is much more important! Think about it!

Did Mary make (or is it, ‘take’) any resolutions at the start of the new year immediately after the birth of Jesus? If she did, what do you think these were? Try to list two or three.

When you have your list, take a careful look at this Sunday’s OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [NUMBERS 6: 22 – 27]

Any of, and all, our resolutions should focus on the desire for:

the Lord (to) bless (us) and keep (us).

(So that) the Lord (will) let his face shine upon (us) and be gracious to (us).

(So that) the Lord (will) uncover his face to (us) and bring (us) peace.

Go back to your proposals for Mary’s resolutions, and discern whether they include actions directed toward achieving the blessing of the Lord, his face being gracious to her, and bringing her peace.

How do these elements fit your own resolutions – if you are inclined to make (take) them?

However, we should make careful note of the fact that the reading from Book of Numbers ends with the words: “this is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.” Then, do not overlook what immediately follows in the REFRAIN from this SUNDAY’S PSALM [66 or 67]. There we proclaim: “O God, be gracious and bless us.” Finally, to complete this simple jigsaw puzzle, call to mind {1} the opening words of Mary’s great canticle of praise: “My soul magnifies the Lord,”(LUKE 1:48) and the famous opening words of Psalm 103(104): “Bless the Lord my soul; let all my being bless his holy name.”

It is, in my view, a splendid celebration which commences a New Year while focussing on Mary’s greatest title – MOTHER! At the same time we are introduced to the possibility of receiving God’s blessings by resolving, as Mary did, to look for the Lord’s approval of our ‘year plan’ to seek his face(if we do not seek it is not uncovered!), by being gracious(gentle – not weak), peaceful, and prepared to magnify(WITNESS to) his living reality in our lives. Is this not what the mother of the Lord did and achieved?

In all of this remember that of which the Psalm assures us: “so will your ways be known upon earth.” This particular fact leads effectively into the NEW TESTAMENT READING [GALATIANS 4: 4 – 7]. There (if we replace the words ‘son’ / ‘sons’ with ‘children’), we should be arrested by the fact that we are his children. The child does not fear the loving PARENTING provided by both father and mother, and strives to live in theFREEDOM of parental love, concern and care. This child does not see itself as a slave to any set of rules. It follows, therefore, that our resolutions for a new year should be clearly integrated into the overall focus of living more positively within the framework of the God who uncovers his face to (and blesses) us in each and every aspect of our living.

It is interesting that on the day celebrating the motherhood of Mary, we should be reminded of our God to whom we turn and address as “Abba, Father.” On a personal level I have no problem with those who call on our Christian God as Father-Mother. What always remains important is the fact that Mary was a parent, and our God is a PARENT! The word goes far beyond the more limiting biological implications of ‘mother’ or ‘father’: it introduces the concept of an origin and source.

Finally, two points from the GOSPEL EXTRACT [LUKE 2: 16 – 21] need to challenge us. Firstly, “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” We, too, have to treasure our faith, and ponder the scriptural message. Secondly, the shepherds returned to their lives and occupations refreshed and renewed by their experience. We must do the same as we proceed into THIS New Year! Our Christmas celebration of the Word made flesh must stay with us, become a part of our living.