September 9, 2020 – Wednesday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/090920.cfm)
How do we understand being blessed?
Usually, when we think of a life that is blessed we think of material wealth and prosperity – like having a good family, a prosperous business, a successful career or a good paying job, or having a good health. We think that being blessed has something to do with success and material possessions.
Thus, poverty is never a blessing; being persecuted, being sick and being rejected is never a blessing too. If we are experiencing such life, we consider ourselves to be cursed.Tweet
However, what Jesus told us today is quite opposite of today’s standard. Our human understanding of being blessed is different from God. Indeed, there is a need for us to understand blessing and our life from God’s perspective..
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus warns those who in the standard of the world are blessed such as the satisfied, the rich, the powerful, the popular and the influential. The danger lies in the attitude of the heart that becomes independent from God, a heart that rejects God’s mercy and love. In fact, Jesus warns us when we tend to accumulate more wealth for ourselves at the expense of the poor, or when we gather fame and influence at the expense of others.
Such attitude of the heart is filled with arrogance and self-centeredness that has no need of God. True enough, when we are so filled with ourselves and too satisfied of what we have gained and achieved, we don’t need God anymore. Our successes and we, ourselves, have become ‘gods.’ This leads us to worship our achievements, wealth, our power and ourselves. But then, all of these corrupt us because we will never be satisfied. We will thirst and hunger for more wealth, recognition and fame which will also lead to our own destruction and those who are around us and those blocking our way to gain for more, as any form of addiction will also result in this way.
Indeed, dependence on these forms of material satisfactions is a mere arrogance and a false sense of security. This is actually the promise of addictions, in whatever form that may be, whether addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, influence and fame, wealth and power (political or economic power).
However, in God’s perspective those who are poor, sick, persecuted, those who failed and rejected are blessed because it is in their poverty and difficulty that they also realize their weakness and need of God. Such insecurities bring us to understand that we are so small in this world and we are in need of God’s grace. That is why; Jesus addressed these Beatitudes to his disciples, assuring them of his presence. His disciples left their families and jobs. They went to places where sometimes they have to sleep without roof. Authorities ridiculed them and insulted them for following Jesus.
Thus, the very presence of God in our life is what makes us “blessed.” Since God favors those who are weak, poor, suffering and struggling in life, they are the ones who are blessed because they understand their need of God. God comes to us when we are ready to accept God in our life and to let God be our God.
God invites us then, to recognize our own poverty and anxieties because God blesses us with His presence. This is also the message of St Paul present in his first letter to the Corinthians. Though at that time, they must have believed that the “Parousia” of the second coming of Jesus was about to happen during their lifetime as he said, “for the world in its present form is passing away.” Paul reminded the people of the need to be more attached to God rather than to what was material and temporary. Paul recognized the importance of ones dependence to God and complete trust in God’s providence. Through the presence of God present in their life, they were indeed blessed.
So, how blessed are you? The material wealth that we have gained, the influence and fame that we have received, the successes that we have achieved, our good health, our talents and abilities, our knowledge, intelligence and competence are signs of God’s grace and generosity. When we have these, these may lead us to humble ourselves and to recognize that these are gifts and we ought to share them to others. Thus, if you have received much, share the blessings to those who are in need, if you are enjoying success in life, share the experience with those who failed especially in these trying times of the pandemic. It is in this way that the Kingdom of God will truly be present among us, and that we ourselves become the blessing. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR