Weekdays in January, February and March 2022

These reflections on the weekday Bible readings are by Canon Mervyn Tower, parish priest of Corpus Christi, Headington, Oxford.

Saturday 1 January
Mary, Mother of God (solemnity)
Numbers 6.22–27
Psalm 66
Galatians 4.4–7
Luke 2.16–21

Over the past year, a worship song, ‘The Blessing’, has become very popular and can be easily found on YouTube. The first part uses the text of the blessing that Aaron is ordered to give. The ‘you’ in Hebrew is singular, which refers either to each individual or to the whole people gathered as one. The most important word of the blessing is its climax – shalom – ultimately the presence of God himself (First Reading: Num. 6.22–7). Luke alone records the shepherds and hence the reflection of Mary with her treasuring and pondering (Greek: sumballo – throwing all together). He likewise alone narrates the circumcision and the actual imposition of the name Jesus (Hebrew: Yeshua – the Lord saves) (Gospel: Lk 2.16–21). Paul not only emphasises that God sent his Son, born of ‘woman’, in other words, a real human being, but also that his Son is a subject to the Torah, which is demonstrated by circumcision (Second Reading: Gal. 4.4–7).

Monday 3 January
The Most Holy Name of Jesus
1 John 2.29–3.6
Psalm 97
John 1.29–34

The dominant theme liturgically of the first days of January is precisely the revelation of the full truth of the nature of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist sums this up as he proclaims him ‘the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’, familiar words that the priest repeats at every Mass. The lamb is a clear link to the Passover sacrifice, intimately related to the Exodus, the freedom and the formation of the people of Israel. The Evangelist deliberately, from the beginning of the narrative about Jesus, points to the end – the sacrifice, the formation of the Church with its inclusive scope – ‘the world’ (Gospel: Jn 1.29–34). God’s revelation is not just about Jesus but includes the future truth about his followers who ‘shall be like him’. For the time being, the Christian is summoned to be full of hope and therefore to have to strength to fight against sin (First Reading: 1 Jn 2.29–3.6).

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