Saturday 1 January 2011

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy about saving people from their sins. Will you fulfil the prophecy of the name “Christian” that you bear? How?

January 1 is celebrated every year as the Titular Feast of the Society of Jesus. It is a day which celebrates giving of the name of Jesus as the Gospel text of today narrates and also honours Mary as Mother of God. Since the Society of Jesus bears the name of Jesus, it regards this day as of special importance.

The Gospel text of today moves the spotlight from the angels to the Shepherds. They move to Bethlehem to see for themselves what the angels had announced. The sign they had been given was of a child in the manger. This sign so amazed them that they had to share it with those whom they met. Everyone who heard what the shepherds reported was amazed. Mary on the other hand continued to reflect on the meaning of these events.

The circumcision of Jesus takes place after eight days had passed according to the law laid down in the Books of Genesis and Leviticus. While the circumcision of a male child marked his acceptance into the covenant community, the naming gave the child an identity. The name also signified the function of the child, what the child would become. In the last verse of today’s Gospel text, the focus is not so much on the circumcision as it is on the naming. The name “Jesus” was chosen not be the parents of Jesus but by the angel of the Lord. Jesus was and would be Saviour of all peoples.

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