Scripture reflections – Sunday, January 1st

Nm 6:22-27; Gal 4:4-7; Lk 2: 16-21

Octave Day – Nativity of the LORD; Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God

This Sunday’s first reading contains a prayer I’ve used as a blessing for years over my children when I put them to bed.  It’s one you probably are familar with also:

“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!”

How can you not love a prayer with exclamation points. (!)  And one with such an air of confidence – often we add the word “May” so as not to impose upon God – but the Israelites knew better.  God is always itching to bless us, just waiting for the opportunity.

I know that this blessing doesn’t make my children any safer in the face of the potential dangers they’ll face when they walk out the door in the morning.   There is no “A” list in the Kingdom of God – actually come to think of it, there is, but it’s filled with the names of the poor and the oppressed.   God will not flick that car aside if my children are careless when they cross the street because I’ve prayed and someone else hasn’t.   This is all very good, because a God who acted like that, a God who showed favoritism for the  pious , would be a petulant deity unworthy of worship and love.

Yet everytime I say this blessing, I am reminded of a truth that sometimes brings tears to my eyes.  God loves my children more than I ever could and in ways I am not able.  And even more astounding – he entrusts his precious children to me with all my faults and sins and limitations.

What glory must God see in all of us!

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(To purchase book-length collections of my reflections on scripture, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com or www.amazon.com.)

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