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.