For the Jewish people there was a blessing for everything and every situation. From waking up in the morning to going to bed at night.
If you can and have the time, I want you to linger a while over today’s sharing. Make yourself comfortable.
Listen to 'You Bless Me' from ‘Making Music to Your Name’. As you listen, take time to think about a blessing you have received recently and offer a prayer of thanks. Sit in the silence contemplating that blessing. Even if you are finding it difficult to think of anything because of other concerns weighing upon you.
Maybe the words of the song prompted you about something or you are just happy to sit and reflect for a while. That’s great.
We read in the prophet Jeremiah...
‘A blessing on the one who puts their trust in the Lord, they are like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream. The same idea is echoed in Psalm 1, ‘They are like a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters that yields its fruit in due season.’
There are so many ways we are blessed;
Last Sunday sharing lunch with my niece, her husband, wee boy and her husband’s family. Children are such a focus and blessing. Their attention on little things like flowers and even a little sparrow brings joy to our hearts. Their innocence reminds us not to take things for granted and to notice the small stuff.
At present, I am preparing the music with a group of teachers for the Dedication Mass for teachers in our Catholic Schools here in Auckland. What a blessing it was for me having a jam with them and to hear their reaction to some of my new material. There is joy in being together.
And on these hot days being able to go for a swim to cool off and seeing others enjoying the water and the beach.
Sharing stories and having a laugh with friends
And the ultimate blessing, knowing we are loved by God who blesses us with all these gifts.
Jesus says in this Sunday’s Gospel,
“Blessed are you who are poor, yours is the kingdom of God”.
He had just come down with the Twelve and had stopped at a piece of level ground where a large gathering of his disciples and a crowd keen to hear him had assembled. In Luke, these are people open to Jesus and his message, not trying to test him or just to be curious, they came to listen and to be healed by him. They were people with longing and openness in their hearts.
The story says Jesus fixed his eyes on his disciples and pronounced his blessing. Blessed are you who are poor, yours is the kingdom of God. If you have a sense of longing in your heart and are open to receive the Lord’s healing grace, Jesus is fixing his eyes on you.
I know he is fixing his eye on those who suffer bereavements. When someone close to us dies, although we are extremely sad, we remember the blessings they brought into our lives. It is a time to weep but also to remember and give thanks.
I know he fixes his eyes on the homeless, those who suffer prejudice, those having to deal with addictions, those who find it difficult to accept things about themselves and things happening in their lives.
Christ acknowledging that the poor were the blessed ones was a new and radical message. This was something these people had never heard before. They were not important people, they were the so-called sinners, the sick, the outcasts, the undesirables and yet Jesus was saying ‘Blessed are you’. How must they have felt? For the first time someone was speaking to their situation and to their experience and was not mincing his words about those who burdened them or oppressed them. Woe to them he says.
How have you felt when someone has understood the way you feel and given weight to your experience? What a blessing that is. I remember as a young priest struggling with what I was being asked to do in ministry and having a couple of my older priest colleagues come alongside me, really listen, encourage and affirm me. It made all the difference.
All of us, like the disciples and the crowd that gathered to listen to Jesus are taking this time now because we are open to his life-giving words and the meaning he gives our lives.
I want you to sit quietly and comfortably again and for a few moments imagine that Christ is fixing his eyes on you and blessing you. Some of you may find it helpful to close your eyes and to hear Christ address your need and concerns.
Hear him say or similar words, blessed are you who are poor, you who are dependent, you who continue to trust and keep faith, you who struggle, you who haven’t got all the answers, you who feel helpless, burdened, overworked, misunderstood, angry, lonely, sinful, weak. Blessed are you, yours is the kingdom of God.
You may like to listen to 'You Bless Me' from ‘Making Music to Your Name’. again to deepen your sense of being blessed and rest in God’s love for a while.
As I often do when I sign off an email, ‘Every blessing’, for today and the week ahead.