A blessed New Year from Holy Guardian Angels Parish Clergy and Staff to all our parishioners and friends, especially to the beloved readership of The Shipwrack-Harvest! May the good Lord give you reason to keep reading!
The new year’s Scripture offerings always begin with the “Aaronic blessing.” Moses’ brother Aaron was the first of Israel’s priests. God entrusted him and his descendants with a special blessing to bestow upon the Israelites. It’s all about receiving the Lord’s compassionate gaze and its resultant peace.
Mother Church commemorates today the Godbearer. In the old liturgical calendar the first of January was dedicated to Jesus’ Circumcision. As you know, from the time of Abraham circumcision was the ritual action, completed after eight days of life outside the womb, that marked boys as “sons of the covenant”—in Hebrew, b’nai b’rith (cf. the apartment building of that name in downtown Reading). Through the sacred humanity provided by Our Lady, Jesus could become a son of Adam and a son of the covenant. The Jewish ritual action soon found its completion in Holy Baptism.
The third part of the Aaronic blessing prays for "peace." The sending of the Son in human flesh is God’s gift of shalom, a word that defies translation. Although “peace” is the go-to meaning, shalom embodies wholeness, integrity, wellness, having-it-together amidst life’s storms. It has physical, emotional, and spiritual components. It is rooted in relationship: that of the Son and the Father in the Holy Spirit, the very relationship into which we are ritually inserted through Baptism, which grows in our experiences of communal liturgy, personal prayer, moral living, and fraternal charity. Shalom is the fruit of love’s freedom and power, wherein the Catholic faith is not an endless series of restrictions, but rather the way of truth and life.
St. Luke presents Mary, Mother of the Church, as one who “keeps things, reflecting on them in her heart.” As one who is not easily given to calmness, I recognize something of a risk in the silence and stillness that facilitates reflection. If I made any sort of resolution I'd have to resolve to seek silence and stillness every five minutes! But just five minutes every day would be such a wonderful gift to God, and to ourselves as well.
Another worthy resolution: to go to Confession at least four times this year. This would be almost a natural consequence of the first resolution. When we are silent and still, we are led to encounter ourselves as we are, and the day’s people and surroundings as they are. The intersection of these is not always pleasant, and we are often at least partly responsible for this. Can we take the time to consider our actions and responses? Can we further take the time to present ourselves honestly before the Lord and His priest? If we did, shalom would be just around the corner.