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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ Blessing: In What Does God Take Delight?

Many years ago, traveling in Ireland, I discovered a common awareness of blessing. Sitting in a pub for lunch, we noticed a group of truckers at the bar who were finishing off their Guinness. As each one finished and began to leave, the others called out to him, “God bless you now, safe drive.” What do we do when we bless someone? Essentially, we are imitating God, seeing another person as God sees them.

If we take a look at the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, we find that the author reflected that at the end of creation God viewed it all. The writer says: God saw all that was made, and indeed it was very good (Gen.1:31). There is probably no clearer statement of the goodness of creation, our world and each and every creature on the earth – including ourselves. Genesis is a reminder that God takes delight in all these works that form creation. God does indeed see you and I and every created thing as a blessing. It is no small thing, that we recognize we are blessed and that we can bless one another.

The spiritual writer, Ron Rolheiser has a wonderful treatment of what we mean by a blessing in his book Against an Infinite Horizon: The Finger of God in Our Everyday Lives. In chapter 2 he focuses our attention on the significance of seeing that we are blessed and that we pass that blessing on to others. Recognizing that we are all blessed and can pass this on to others is a form of delight that God expressed in all creation. If God can look at the created universe and in the words of Genesis declare all to be “very good”, we can do nothing less.

When we bless someone, we are indicating that like God, we take delight in that person, that this person is special to us and to God. Like God, we want the best for them. It is this that calls parents to bless their children, friends to bless their friends, members of a community to bless one another, and yes, truckers to bless their fellow truckers in an Irish pub.

In Matthew 5:1-12 we hear the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. We hear Jesus acknowledging the manner in which God views us all. This opening section of the Sermon is referred to as the Beatitudes. These are blessings conferred on us, all of us, in the many experiences that mark our lives. We need to know that in the midst of each and every experience of our lives, God constantly sees the goodness that rests in us and in all creation. God takes delight in us.

Jesus will go on in the Sermon to call us to let this goodness, this “salt” and “light”, shine before our world. But it is important that we first recognize that God blesses us with this goodness – even when we do not feel that goodness.

As we conclude each Eucharistic gathering, we leave the table with a blessing for each person who has been with us. We recognize and express the delight in which the God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit holds each and every one of us. Leaving the table at home, especially when we have shared a meal with visitors, we do the same. In saying Goodbye, we bless them with “God be with you”.

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