Bless – don’t curse.
It is the way of peace.
Christians have always connected the traditional New Year’s feast to a motive of their faith. Before the liturgical reform of Vatican Council II Jesus’ circumcision was celebrated. It took place, according to Luke, eight days after his birth (Lk 2:21). Then this day was dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. From 1968, Pope Paul VI promulgated January 1 as “world day of peace”. The readings reflect a variety of themes: the blessing to begin well the new year (first reading); Mary, model of every mother and disciple (gospel); peace (first reading and the gospel); the divine sonship (second reading); amazement before God’s love (gospel); the name with which God wishes to be identified and invoked (first reading and the gospel).
“To bless” and “blessing” are terms that occur often in the Bible. They could be found in almost every page (552 times in the Old Testament, 65 times in the New Testament). From the beginning God blesses his creatures: the living beings that they be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:22); the man and the woman that they rule over all creation (Gen 1:28); and the Sabbath, sign of rest and of joy without end (Gen 2:3).
We need to feel blessed by God and by the brethren. Cursing distances, separates, and indicates refusal, while blessing approaches, strengthens solidarity, infuses trust and hope. “May the Lord bless you and protect you”: these are the first words that the liturgy utters on this day. May they be impressed in our hearts and that we repeat them to friends and enemies throughout the year.
To internalize the message, we repeat:
“Teach us, O Lord, to bless who insults us, to bear with who persecutes us, to confront who slanders us.”