For the last few days, I’ve been ending emails and phone calls with the phrase, “Happy New Year!” and have been receiving that wish as often as I offer it. We actually do that quite often in our culture. Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! (the more inclusive, non-specific, politically correct choice), Happy birthday! Bon voyage! Vaya con Dios…You get the idea.
The psalm refrain for this morning (Ps. 67:2a) brought this custom of what we generally call “best wishes” into the realm of “blessings” and started me on the way to a New Year’s resolution. May God bless us in His mercy, it said. A great wish, a prayer even, that we might utter in supplication every morning. Taking a look back at the first reading from the Book of Numbers (6:22-27), I found an even broader possibility. Moses was getting a lesson from God on how to bless the Israelites: Say to them, God tells Moses, 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!
I thought upon hearing that how empowering the instruction was. It became the job of Moses, not just God, to impart a blessing to the people. (We Catholics hear that one sometimes as the dismissal from the Mass.) Down through the ages songs of blessing have been sung, creative prayer services have included blessings on those gathered and, perhaps most intimately, parents have blessed their children each night before they sleep with words, a hand on their heads, the sign of the cross on their foreheads or a sweet kiss that adds a message of love to the blessing.
I think I’ll resolve to make every day a day of blessing this year, making sure that someone in my world (our world) receives from me a word of hope, of solidarity or, best of all, of love. So let it begin here:
May this year of 2016 be new every day for all of us, offering us the opportunity to begin again to be the best we can be while accepting that God loves us just the way we are!