Wednesday 18 February 2015

7th Sunday of Easter Year B

Every once in a while, I get people coming up to me asking me to bless their car, their rosary, a picture of some saint, the crucifix that they would like to wear or they would like to gift to someone, a statue of Mary or some saint, some holy medal attributed to Mary or some saint, or even their house or workplace. Sometimes, I have people young and not so young coming to me asking me to bless them because it is their birthday, or their wedding anniversary, or they are hoping to conceive, or they are sick, about to go for some important treatment or feeling troubled, or they are about to take an examination, or to bless their children, or for some other reason. But the question is: What exactly is a blessing? Do you know why you ask for a blessing? Some people do not seem to really understand what a blessing means, and some people may think that it is a means of protection from evil or a means to obtain good luck, like a talisman or a good luck charm. But this understanding of what a blessing is, is wrong. It becomes a form of superstition, since the blessing ends up appearing to be some form of magic (like murgaga or hokus pokus).

So what exactly is a blessing? A blessing, as today's Gospel reminds us, is a form of consecration. In the Gospel, Jesus prayed a prayer of blessing, where He said: "Consecrate them in the truth, your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth." A consecration means the person or object now belongs to God. It means the person or item is moved away from the world and towards God, as the person or item is set apart for God, and the fate and the life of the person or object is now in the hands of God, to be dealt with according to His will. When something or someone is consecrated to God, the object or the person is now set apart to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ, which is to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to give glory to God in all things.

So what does this all mean? It means that, when a house is blessed, the family in that house must give glory to God by living a life of unity, charity and love. When a sick person is blessed, he or she gives glory to God through his or her sickness, regardless of whether he or she recovers or not. When a person asks for blessings before an important exam, the person is saying that he or she will do his or her best and give glory to God, regardless of whether he or she does well in the examination or not. When holy medals and rosaries are blessed, these objects become symbols reminding us to give glory to God through our prayers, through our deeds, and through the way we live our lives each day. When vehicles and workplaces are blessed, we are saying that such vehicles or workplaces would be used in an honest and proper way, for the good of all and for the glory of God.  So as we can see, asking for a blessing is not a small matter or a laughing matter or for play play. Are we prepared to carry out what the blessing requires?

Let us be reminded that God does not force us to have a relationship with Him, and we should love freely and willingly. Instead, God is inviting us to enter into a loving relationship with Him, as the second reading reminds us: "God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him." When we ask for a blessing for whatever reason, let us be prepared to consecrate our entire lives to God, so that we may live in His love and allow Him to live in us. Are we really, truly and happily prepared to do this for the greater glory of God?

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