- Fr. John Jennings
Burdens & Blessings: Our God of Love and Blessings
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
We all bear burdens - challenges and responsibilities that our lives bring us. Over the past months our whole world has been facing Covid-19, on top of whatever other issues occupy us. Our lives have been disrupted by the threat of the virus and we are forced to live in isolation. What we have come to expect as normal life-patterns have been interrupted or broken. For some there are threats to health, for many, our employment is precarious and for all, life is no longer what we have come to expect. Contacts with loved ones, family, friends and community have been limited or none at all.
It is hard to let such burdens go and be at peace, at rest. To do so might well mean recovering something of what we had as children, the capacity to “take delight”. Children seem to show “delight” with such ease and enthusiasm, even in simple things.
In the face of Covid-19 it may be possible to recognize or discover the blessings that mark our lives. More than once we realize how significant are the people that are part of our lives. Family relationships have taken on new importance for us. The moments of gathering as community and friends bear a significance that we may have taken for granted. The natural settings of a creation that surrounds us have become more apparent to us. In some ways, Covid-19 has brought an increased awareness of our blessings. It has been a burden, but perhaps it has also blessed us.
Even in the midst of our burdens, we come to see that there is much that brings “delight”. Often in challenging times we discover the blessings of kindness and caring that come our way. Simple things touch us – the smile of the stranger we pass on the street, 2 meters apart, the kind and thoughtful neighbour who reaches out when someone is in need, the friend who calls or emails to see how we are. Simple “delights” have been many over the past three months. They help us to recognize that even in the darkest of time, God continues to bless us with “delights”.
In the account of creation found in the Book of Genesis, this is how God sees the world and all that is in it – “God saw everything that was made, and indeed it was very good.”(Gen.1:31) To recognize the good in our world, to see the good in others is to see as God sees. It is to delight as God delights and with the same enthusiasm that the small child can exhibit.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly shows his mission to be the revelation of God’s delight in us. At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5:1-12), Jesus proclaims those famous blessings, the beatitudes. It sets the tone for the whole mission of Jesus. In the midst of the burdens and challenges of life, Jesus issues an invitation to rest, to peace. We are reminded that God takes delight in our world and in each of us. God blesses us continually as a God of love and compassion.
Despite the burdens and judgements we make on ourselves, Jesus’s mission is to bless and take delight in the world and persons that God has seen as “indeed... very good.” The experiences of kindness and care over the last months are indeed blessings. As we enter the summer season, perhaps it is our opportunity to pause and count our blessings in the midst of those burdens and challenges that we face. Like Jesus, our mission is to bring recognition of the blessings of all creation.
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Ps.145)
ARE WE READY TO ACCEPT THAT GOD TAKES DELIGHT IN US?
HOW ARE WE A BLESSING TO OTHERS?