Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Ezekiel 45:9
Resolutions, it seems, are m ade to be broken. Some folks poke fun at this reality by proposing New Year’s vows that are — shall we say — attainable. Here are a few from social media:
Wave to fellow motorists at stoplights.
Sign up for a marathon. Don’t run it.
Sto p procrastinating—tomorrow.
Get lost without any help from Siri.
Unfr iend everyone who posts their workout regimen.
The concept of a fresh start can be serious business, however. The exiled people of Judah desperately needed one. Just over two decades into their seventy-year captivity, God brought encouragement to them through the prophet Ezekiel, promising, “I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob” (Ezekiel 39:25).
But the nation first needed to return to the basics — the instructions God had given to Moses eight hundred years earlier. This included observing a feast at the new year. For the ancient Jewish people, that began in early spring (45:18). A major purpose of their festivals was to remind them of God’s character and His expectations. He told their leaders, “Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right” (v. 9), and he insisted on honesty (v. 10).
The lesson applies to us too. Our faith must be put into practice or it’s worthless (James 2:17). In this new year, as God provides what we need, may we live out our faith by returning to the basics: “Love the Lord your God,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). Tim Gustafson
In what ways do you sense you need to get back to the basics? How will you put this into practice in the new year?
Father, may Your Spirit show me the places where I need to put others before myself. Help me love You with all my heart.
The STAR Cover (January 5, 2023)
MANILA, Philippi nes — Only a few new COVID cases were recorded during the holidays, according to the Department of Health (DOH), as it denied reports that a new wave of the coronavirus was sweeping Metro Manila.
“From November to December, the percentage of occupied ICU beds for COVID cases remained low at 16 percent at its highest and averaged at 12 percent,” the DOH said in a statement.
The health agency said that during the same period, the number of occupied non-ICU beds for COVID cases was also low, at 19 percent at its highest, and averaged at 17 percent. It said a majority of the cases were mild.
“DOH data shows continuous low transmission and mild presentation of COVID locally,” the DOH said.
“Our data also shows a consistently low percentage of severe and critical cases among hospital admissions, currently at 11 percent,” it added.
The DOH said the low figures were achieved as Filipinos chose healthy behavior and heeded the call for multiple layers of protection – using face masks when needed, going to well-ventilated areas ad staying at home when ill,” the agency said.
Health officials also cited high vaccination coverage for the infections.
“Critical cases are minimized, because eight of every 10 eligible senior citizens are protected by a primary vaccine series.”
From Dec. 26, 2023 to Jan. 1, the DOH recorded 3,147 new cases.
The average number of new cases per day this week stood at 450, down 10 percent recorded from Dec. 19 to 25 with 501.
Of the new cases, only 40 or 1.28 percent were considered serious or critically ill.
Health officials said they would closely monitor the trend for any change.
“Everyone is reminded not to be complacent about COVID. We can gather and carry on with our activities, mindful always to choose well-ventilated and good airflow areas,” the DOH said.
The health agency warned the public against a false circulating message attributed to a doctor of St. Luke’s Medical Center that a new COID wave is affecting Metro Manila.
“There is no credible evidence or official announcement from health authorities supporting the assertion of a surge in COVID in St, Luke’s,” the DOH said.
It urged the public to source information only from legitimate sources and platforms such as the health department and other official health organizations.
“Misinformation can contribute to unnecessary panic and fear,” it said.