In God’s beautiful design, the Christmas liturgy continues at the beginning of the New Year by drawing us toward the Face of Christ with three holy feast days. We begin on January 1, with the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, who teaches us how to contemplate the Face of her Son. The first reading for this feast day is the priestly blessing on God’s chosen people from the book of Numbers.
The Feast of Mary, Mother of God
The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
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!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.” (Num 6:22-27)
In celebrating the centenary of Fatima, Pope Francis gave this reflection of that scripture passage: “This blessing was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary. No other creature ever basked in the light of God’s Face as did Mary; she in turn gave a human face to the Son of the eternal Father. Now we can contemplate her in the succession of joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments of her life, which we revisit in our recitation of the rosary…With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true Face of Jesus the Saviour.”
At the last New Year Pope Francis said,
“Begin the year by recalling God’s goodness in the maternal face of Mary, in the maternal face of the Church, in the faces of our own mothers…”
The next holy feast, on January 3 is…
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI teaches us, The expression “name of God” means God as He Who is present among men. His name, is the concrete sign of His Existence. The Hebrew term, “panim”, which means “face” means to see The Face of God, or the presence of God. “Panim” is a term that describes relationships. The Hebrew word “shem” meaning “name” is also a term of relationship. God has a Face and a Name!
“To rejoice in the splendor of His Face means penetrating the mystery of His name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of His interior life and of His will, so that we can live according to His plan for humanity. Jesus lets us know the hidden Face of The Father through His human Face; by the gift of The Holy Spirit poured into our hearts. This, is the foundation of our Peace, which nothing can take from us.”
And the third great holy day drawing us to adore the Holy Face is…
The Feast of the Epiphany
The Epiphany is closely linked to the Holy Face–because the Epiphany is the feast on which Jesus Christ first shows Himself to the world represented by the Magi–and He shows Himself through a human face, the face of an infant. On the feast of the Epiphany, we ask God to shine His Face upon us, to reveal His Face to us once more as we come before Him in adoration.
On the occasion of the Closing of the Holy Door, January 6, 2001, Pope St. John Paul II prayed for the Church:
“May the Lord grant that in the new millennium, the Church will grow ever more in holiness, that she may become in history a true epiphany of the merciful and glorious Face of Christ the Lord.”
May Our Lord grant us, in this New Year, through intercession the Blessed Virgin Mary, the grace to contemplate always His Holy Face.
Happy New Year!