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Blessed are You…

February 16, 2019

In the middle of Winter I often think of the trips we make up Old Fall River Road. It is a very special place to us and as the winter winds blow and snow closes the road in the park, I sometimes close my eyes and reflect on the beauty of that spot. That spot is indeed a blessing for us and a place of rest and refreshment.

I must say though, the reading from Jeremiah and Luke are far from restful and refreshing. If you find them to be restful and refreshing, I am afraid you may be missing something in translation. The two passages do indeed talk about blessings and rewards, but they also give us a warning that should be heeded.

Jeremiah warns us that to trust in our own selves is not necessarily a good thing. If we trust in our own “good” and our own “smarts”, we may find ourselves to be like a shrub in the desert. The first sign of drought and we will be shriveled up. But if we trust in God, even thought we may be in the desert, we will find sustenance and hope. Jeremiah’s commentary almost echoes the challenge of Joshua. Choose this day whom you will serve…

How often I have found myself to be in a situation where I am overconfident and, to a degree, arrogant about my situation. God has blessed me and it is all mine! Then, at the first sign of “trouble”, I moan and groan at how God has “abandoned” me!

Jesus took a slightly different approach when he addressed wants and needs and blessings. When he said that the poor, hungry, weeping, mourning, and despised were blessed, I don’t believe they were blessed because of their suffering. Jesus said that they were blessed in spite of their suffering! They are blessed for they shall receive their reward “in heaven.” However, is that what he really meant?

If you look back, Jesus has healed the sick, cast out demons, and shared his healing and blessing with those who were considered outsiders and unclean. I think he was telling them that despite their status as outsiders and rejects, God has not abandoned them. Yes, society may have ditched them, but God hadn’t ditched them. I think that despite society looking down its nose at them, God never looked down on them. Their blessing is the fact that God has not abandoned them. Even though society had abandoned them, God had not.

The flip side is that those who had been “blessed” according to the world’s standards weren’t necessarily blessed. Perhaps they figured that they had earned their blessings. Perhaps they had forgotten where those blessings had come from. In the end, if they were too busy congratulating themselves on a job well done and hoarding all of their treasure, they were missing out on a call from God.

In Luke 12:48, we read the following: “…Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.” The gifts and the blessings they had were to be shared, not hoarded.

So, in the end, I have to consider both those who have nothing and those who have much. God has always been on the side of the oppressed and the downtrodden. Yet, God has also been on the side of the more fortunate. Bottom line? God is on the side of all God’s children. The point is, how do we, as God’s children, treat each other?

How do we share the blessings we have? How do we treat our Sisters and Brothers, created as we are, in the image of God? It is in loving God and loving neighbor that we will truly find the blessings.

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