Podcast Reflections

Reflection for New Year’s Day 2022 (Naming and Circumcision of Jesus)

Listen to a reflection on Luke 2.15-21, the gospel reading set for Saturday 1 January 2022 (New Year’s Day; Naming and Circumcision of Jesus)

Luke 2.15-21

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 


The new year has dawned. Last night, and over the coming days, we will wish each other a Happy New Year. But what will we mean when we offer that greeting to one another?

In classical Greek, the word for ‘happiness’ is makários. But this word, which we also encounter in The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), can be translated in other ways. Makários does mean ‘happiness’, but it can also mean ‘blessed’, ‘fortunate’ and ‘happier’. When we wish each other a Happy New Year, we need to reflect upon what we really mean. Are we simply exchanging a traditional pleasantry, or are we praying for something more?

In today’s reading, on this feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus, we read of happiness. We read of the happiness of the safe delivery of Mary’s son; the happiness of the shepherds as they found all as it had been told them by the angels; the happiness which bubbled over into glorifying and praising God; the happiness of bringing Jesus to his circumcision and naming. There is a great deal of makários in today’s reading, and not just in the sense of ‘happiness’.

Mary and Joseph’s happiness, like that of the shepherds, can also be counted as blessedness and good fortune. Despite the challenging and humble circumstances of his miraculous birth, Jesus’ coming into the world has brought a level of happiness, blessedness and good fortune that far exceeds our feeble attempts at defining such words. It also shows what we should be wishing upon each other at this turning point of another year.

Let us pray that all whom we wish a Happy New Year might know the happiness of a real relationship with the Christ who came to bring redemption for us all. Let us pray that the whole world might be blessed with the peace, love and light of Christ as we embark upon a new year. Let us pray that our faith might be shown in the happiness and blessedness that shines through our words and actions in the year that lies ahead.