2017 A NEW YEAR OF GRACE AND BLESSINGS
About one thousand, two hundred and fifty years before the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Lord God – Yahweh – spoke to Moses and directed him to pass on to Aaron and his sons the words by which they will 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.
With the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ a new creation, a new age has now dawned on the entire human race. St. Paul, converted from being a religio-cultural Israelite to a spiritual-catholic Christian, gratefully testifies to this fact in his letter to the Ephesians, a gentile or non-Israelites people:
Blessed be God the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Thus he chose us in Christ before the world was made to be holy and faultless before him in love, marking us out for himself before hand, to be adopted sons through Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Christian Church – the Universal family of God, the New Israel inaugurated by Christ, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary – has inherited all the graces and blessings that God gave to the old Israel, from the Patriarchs, the Prophets and the Kings. That is why the forty-six books of the Old Testament are part and parcel of the Catholic Christian Bible together with the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.
The word of blessing which Aaron and his sons pronounced over Israel in the Old Testament is now in the New Testament for all humanity, a personal Divine Blessing for every human and for all creation. John the Evangelist echoing John the Baptist says:
Indeed from His fullness we have all of us, received, grace upon grace, for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
The perennial trumpet-tone of this Divine Personal Blessing in Christ for all humans is contained in this Angelic message:
Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
I wish you, each and every one of you, a Happy and Blessed New Year 2017. In proper historical dating, 2017 should be written 2017 A.D. – Anno Domini – meaning in the birth year or from the birth year of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is in contrast with 1250B.C. meaning Before Christ’s birth.
To mark or celebrate the New Year 2017 is in fact to recall with joy and thanksgiving that two thousand and seventeen years ago, Jesus Christ, the man that changed creation and human history for good and forever, was born in Bethlehem of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Indeed for these two thousand years and more He has been pouring his grace and blessings into every nook and cranny of our universe, sending apostles and missionaries to the four winds of the earth to teach all humans that He is the sanest way of living for every human, the firmest Truth for every human, the surest life – Eternal life for every human.
It is thanks to this fullness of grace and blessings flowing from him that millions from Igboland and other parts of Africa, who, two hundred years ago were embedded in spiritistic ethnic-religious practices have begun to see Christ and in Christ their ultimate way, their ultimate-Eternal life. You and I must count ourselves privileged members of the new universal family of God in Christ.
And because Jesus Christ is Eternal – same yesterday, today and forever – he brings fresh graces and blessings to humanity every New Year, every new day:
To our violent nation and world He continues to bring the grace and blessing of Peace. Blessed are the Peace-makers for they shall be recognized as children of God. May you be blessed with peace of mind and body all through the year.
To the gentle and kindhearted he brings the grace and blessing of Mercy. May he show you mercy all through the year.
To those deprived of their rights and even persecuted in seeking their rights He brings the grace and blessings of justice. May he cause your rights to be granted you.
To those who seek purity and holiness in their lives he brings the grace and blessing of a Blessed Vision – May He grant you a continuous vision of His Holy self and ways, as He granted to His blessed Mother Mary, St. Joseph and All the Saints.
I wish you all, once again, a holy, pure and blessed new year 2017.
Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna
Catholic Archbishop of Owerri