We are reminded in today’s Gospel that Jesus blesses us. Often this Gospel can be a little perplexing, but I believe this Gospel gets to the heart & soul of what a blessing from God is all about. It’s not something that takes away our pains, sufferings, hardships, and challenges in life. No, but in fact what we can be confident and assured of is that the Lord shares those burdens with us. He takes much of it upon Himself in His great love for us. When people come to us and ask for our prayers and blessings, and I especially think of the many people who would come to me as a parish priest and ask for a blessing before surgery or to bless their new car or to bless them in something that was weighing on their mind, it occurs to me “what if…” What if something happens to that person after the blessing that doesn’t help them grow in faith?
The thought also occurred to me at times that we ask blessings because we might superstitiously believe that the Lord will keep us from something we don’t want to have to face – I know that I’ve thought this way about blessings too. But as I’ve reflected upon today’s Gospel, it has allowed me to go deeper into why we ask for blessings in the first place. We ask for blessings because we want to consecrate every part of our lives to God. We know that God loves us so completely, generously, unconditionally that He gave His Son to save us, and so we ask Him to bless us in every moment and event of our lives. We ask that He carry some of the burdens we experience in our lives, and He gladly accepts. We ask a blessing upon ourselves as we have a major event in our lives, or go for surgery or have to deal with a heavy burden, because as Christians with the Lord carrying some of the weight we can deal with more. We know that many things can happen out on the road, so we ask God’s blessing upon our vehicle so that it too may be a place where the Lord is present with us, blesses us and we grow in sanctification and holiness. We ask for a blessing on a Rosary or Crucifix because that object although just a material thing on its own can be a powerful instrument to remind us that we carry the Lord with us at all times and He is there for us always. He eases our burdens by His very presence, a friend who will walk with us on the journey of life. Friends, as a priest, reflecting upon the powerful message of today’s Gospel in this way has helped me to grow in my faith but also to help me understand why we ask for God’s blessings on the things which help us remember His sacred and deeply personal presence in all of our lives.