Old Testament for New Year’s

Our first Scripture reading for the New Year is from the book of Numbers, one of the first five books of the Old Testament. Numbers recounts the journey of the Israelites from Mt. Sinai to the Promised Land.

Reading from the book of Numbers on New Year’s gives us a special insight. The spiritual meaning of the Book of Numbers helps us to understand the passage of time.

The pilgrimage which the Israelites made through the desert forms an image of the pilgrimage of the Church on earth, the image of our pilgrim life. And, as of today, the Lord has added another year to our pilgrimage.

As the Israelites made their way through the desert, they pitched their camp at various places along the way. They erected their camp according to God’s precise instructions. But of course they never settled down permanently in the desert. They were on their way to the Promised Land.

Likewise, the Church worships God according to His precise instructions in buildings built of wood, brick, and stone here on earth. But we have no lasting city here. We long for the courts of the eternal temple in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The ancient Israelites were beset by dangers and temptations as they traveled through the desert. God always provided for them. When they disobeyed Him, He corrected their faults with loving discipline. He forgave their sins. Through Moses, God began to reveal to the Israelites the tenderness and compassion of His infinite love.

In the New and eternal Covenant of Christ’s Blood, God has revealed the depths of His love fully. The ancient Israelites feared the Lord, Whom they did not fully know. We love the heavenly Father that Christ has taught us to trust.

And today we rejoice especially that, by giving us His mother to be our mother, the Lord shows us the beauty and holiness that He intends to give us through the grace of the Church’s sacraments.

All this might make us want to pause and read the entire book of Numbers together. But in the interest of time, the Church assigns only a brief passage.

We read Moses’ instruction to the priests of the Old Covenant about how to bless the people.

This, too, is perfect for New Year’s Day. Today we invoke the blessing of Almighty God upon us and upon all our endeavors in the year to come.

May the Lord make His face shine upon us this year as we make our pilgrim way toward eternity. May He grant us peace throughout the 2,012th year of His grace. May He lead us through the days and months and years of our lives to the Promised Land of heaven.

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One thought on “Old Testament for New Year’s

  1. Father Mark (otherwise known as Fr. M.D.W.),

    God’s Plan is always precise and known to Him alone. Man’s attempts to follow that plan are greatly enhanced by silence and listening (says the man who has a problem doing either). Still, man’s happiness here on earth, and his degree of success in following The Lord Jesus toward eternal happiness with God, is paradoxically tied to accepting the dictates of the Church as God’s Plan.

    One needn’t look to far for the reason this is so, Matthew 18:18 “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And, so much peace ensues from accepting this authority and the succession of the apostles, that one must carefully examine any temptation to question that authority (says the one who instinctively tends to resist authority).

    However, as with out forefathers (“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”) some questioning might be justified. It would be, of course, within the confines and boundaries of the Church; and it would be aided by the mutual love and respect of the Christians for one another, both of the hierarchy and of the laity.

    So, what’s a poor Christian to do? Question gently, perhaps.

    LIH,

    joe

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