Bring the Blessing
#BringtheBlessing is the podcast for November 3, 2019, Being “Blessed” means more than you think. Listen here FREE and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Matthew5 #Beatitudes #AllSaints #KanyeWest #Martyr #MotherTheresa #CorrieTenBoom#Psalm84
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/3/2019 The Feast of All Saints.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 5:1-12a:
“This is not what I signed up for!”
“I did not expect this!”
“What did I get myself into?!?”
When we read the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, this ought to be our thought. The situations we find ourselves in after we have either become Christians or have finally taken the claim of God in our Baptism seriously usually are like these qualities that Jesus blesses. When we take our faith seriously, we often find ourselves poor in spirit from the depressing results of so many tries with so few who respond. We are caught between the measures of success of the world and the measures of success of God.
We who live out our faith, we often mourn the loss of friendships, family members, marriages, relationships of every kind, and mourn the loss of friends and loved ones whom God calls to go somewhere else. Being a follower of Jesus means we set others free to choose what or whom they choose. When they do not choose God, it is like a death and we mourn.
When Jesus blesses the “meek” it is exactly what it can feel like being a follower of Jesus. “Turn the other cheek,” “You must forgive seventy times seven times,” “Love your enemies,” it can all sound like we are meek and pathetic in the face of the culture. The culture idolizes Jack Reaper, Jason Bourne, Lara Croft, Trinity in the Matrix, and Ellen Ripley in the movie Alien, and wants to kick butt and take names later more than it wants peace.
When Jesus blesses those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, we might as well stamp “WEIRDO!” on their foreheads. People who hunger and thirst for righteousness are an anomaly and a curiosity to the world. There was a protestant monastery in Taize, France. Brother Roger was one who was odd, creating music for the liturgy and seeking righteousness to the point that people flocked to him. Catholic monasteries begun in the last 50 years are taking off because of their thirst to demonstrate their righteousness. Yet, with that hunger and thirsting comes the plain truth about who we are. To change, we must have a starting point. That starting point is to stare our sin in the face.
The merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers might as well just join the “door mats” of society, it seems. We await the blessings of which Jesus speaks. Often they come after we die and that can be a long time, and a long reason for the enemy to steal Christians away. So, although, there are promises to us who endure these things AFTER we have decided that our faith is a pearl of great price, for which we have sold everything we have and bought the field where the pearl is, it can seem a long way off, that pearl. What is missing here is the notion of what it means to be “blessed.”
Tucked away in the Psalm 84: 4-5 it states “Blessed are those whose strength is in you….as they go through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs.” What is here is the notion that being “blessed” means not so much that we experience the blessings in this life about which Jesus speaks, but that we bring the blessing to these things. Because of our faith, we bless mourning and the suffering transforms us to make us better. Because we are “blessed” by God, we bless meekness because we transform it into strength, a knowledge and confidence that there is another stage to life after this one. It causes us to be strong in our meekness.
When we stand as merciful, pure in heart, and peace-makers, we stand in sharp contrast to a transactional, skeptical what’s-in-it-for-me world. We become the safe harbor once people are tired of encountering no mercy, where everything is desecrated, and force becomes exhausting.
How do I know these things are true? They are true because even though the saints whose lives we remember this All Saints Sunday were peppered with insults and persecution, we are here because St. Justin Martyr dared to write about Christianity in a way that platonic philosophers could understand, even to his martyrdom. We have faith because Jacque Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues dared to teach to the Native Americans of the Great Lakes. We are convicted to be pure in heart because Corrie ten Boom hid Jews during the Shoa, even to the point of her own imprisonment. We are inspired to serve the poor because St. Theresa of Calcutta served the poor even though she experienced great separation from God in her own faith, she trusted the promise of God and served him by serving the people in the gutters of India. We endure and endure like all the Saints who went before us because in a battle against evil and a war for the souls of humanity, we have mission after mission that must be fulfilled so that just like those who went before us blessed life and gave it meaning, our lives will bless life itself and serve as a testimony that saves the souls of humanity.
“For All the Saints, who from their labors rest,” relies upon the fact that to be a saint, a follower of Jesus, IS about laboring. We have testimonies to give with our speech and testimonies to give with how we live our lives. Today, we celebrate all those of whom we are certain are in heaven. We celebrate those, I should say, of whom we know. Yet, there are countless others who we know every day who testify to us and call us to daily conversion by their lives because they bring the blessing.
We are called, my brethren, to bring the blessing.
We bring blessing to hungering and thirsting for righteousness. We bring the blessing to being merciful, being peacemakers, being mourners, etc. because we have been baptized into Jesus Christ and he is the Blessing of the World. We, when we seek to do right, become a place for others to go when they do not want to live the sinful lives they are living, or when tragedy hits themselves or their family. We bring the blessing.
Kanye West came out as a Christian this past week. His latest album has the name Jesus in it more than the Bible, I think. His prosperity Gospel needs a little work, but he is a brother now. Who was it that dared to bring the blessing to him? How many more people will now come to recognize Jesus as their Lord because of his testimony that was brought on by another who dared to bring the blessing.
To what situation and to whom are you, my brethren saints, bringing the blessing and testifying to the saving grace of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? When you do, you bring the blessing like all those who have gone before us. That is what you signed up for. That is what you should expect. That is what you got yourself into. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2019.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian