Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 2:15-21:  Holy Name Sunday. January 1, 2023

The Gospel of 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.

Let us Pray: Most Holy God, we gather before you in prayer, celebrating your presence and your light in our lives and in our world. The old year has ended and a new one lies before us; a new year full of promise, hope and potential. As we enter into this New Year we pray that your Holy Light will shine upon all nations, all people and all of creation leading us in hope, love, peace and joy. This we pray in your Name our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   Amen.

As we wrap up the Christmas week with its unusually cold weather, we have been able to witness many acts that show that there are people who believe and follow in the footsteps of our savior, as they welcomed stranded travelers into their homes. Their selfless hospitality reminds us that we need to be there to help each other. Makes one wonder if those three travelers who are on their way to present the Christ Child with special gifts were offered hospitality on their trip.                                                                                   

  Today’s gospel is an extension of Christmas gospel. The difference is that it is now eight days after the birth, and it is Holy Name Sunday.  It was also customary at this time for family and friends to witness the naming of the child. This major feast is celebrated on Jan. 1. Celebration of the Holy Name reflects the significance of the Holy Name of Jesus, and the emphasis of the Gospel of Luke on the naming of Jesus. When naming their son, Joseph and Mary were obedient, following the instructions the angel Gabriel gave Mary to call the boy Jesus. Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is particularly derived from Phil 2:9-11, which states that God highly exalted Jesus “and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. As we ponder the meaning of Jesus’ holy name, we can better appreciate the significance of the shepherds’ response and be motivated to follow their example. Because we the readers know more about Jesus than the shepherds did when the angelic hosts suddenly appeared to them, we should appreciate all the more their response to the heavenly host of angels. They reacted to what they saw and heard with genuine curiosity, trust, and active obedience. Imagine that we were the shepherds watching over our flocks in the fields that night. Having just witnessed a display of heavenly glory by the angelic choir, and having been given the good news that our long-awaited Savior had been born, what should we do?  Compared to them, we have so much more information. We know the rest of Jesus’ story, his earthly ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and where we now stand in light of his second coming. How much more should we respond favorably and faithfully to that which has been made known to us. We, too, are called to proclaim the holy name of Jesus in word and deed, until he comes again. The good news inherent in Jesus’ holy name, is desperately needed in our broken world today. May we, like the shepherds, have the courage and integrity to pass on the good news to all.

Let us Pray: As we proclaim the hope that inspires us to keep moving forward on our journeys. We recognize the peace that extends from our souls into the world. We celebrate the joy that fills our spirits with excitement. And we herald the love passed between Jesus and us and between our neighbors and us. We celebrated the lighting of the Christ Candle; we celebrate the compassion which will overcome hatred and the kindness which will overcome isolation. May the light of Jesus fill our souls throughout the new year and beyond, enlivening our spirits throughout eternity.  Amen.

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