In his book, Faith Works, Jim Wallis writes about a personal experience he had several years ago.
Jim Wallis is the founder and the leader of the Sojourners community, intentionally located in a poor inner-city neighborhood of Washington, D.C. After living in that neighborhood for more than twenty years, Wallis found himself the victim of a mugging.
Preoccupied with an upcoming speaking opportunity, Jim failed to “watch his back” as he turned the corner on a deserted street, and by the time he heard the running feet behind him, it was too late.
As he turned around, he was hit by something sharp enough to open a gash over one eye, and he immediately felt the blood running down his face. Several hands pushed him to the ground, and he could hear one of his assailants shout, “Keep him down! Get his wallet! Take his money!”
Popping up quickly to face the muggers, Jim discovered that there were four of them, all young teenagers, no one more than fourteen years of age. The four youths circled Jim, and the youngest one, who couldn’t have been more than twelve years old, clearly had watched a lot of television, because he began to flail away at Jim with earnest but ineffectual karate kicks.
Noting that the youth weren’t carrying weapons, Jim decided to confront them with what they were doing. “Stop it! Just stop it!” Jim scolded them. “You guys have got to quit terrorizing people like this.”
The young teens, taken by surprise, dropped their hands, so Jim continued, “I’m a pastor. You boys want to try and beat up a pastor and take his money? Come on! Take your best shot.”
At that they fled down the street, but the little karate kicker turned back, looking directly in Jim’s eyes with a sad expression and saying in a sincere voice, “Pastor, ask God for a blessing for me.”
Who among us does not yearn for a blessing from God? Even those we are tempted to write off as too tough, too entrenched in unacceptable behavior or not following our rules — buried deep beneath their exterior, there is a yearning for a blessing.
Whether a troubled youth, one struggling with addiction, or the “respectable” person fearful of giving credence to his or her own inner voice — whatever our situation in life, we ache to know God’s blessing.
Thanks to Joel D. Kline for sharing this story. Thanks to Fauxels for the photo.
On December 19, 2023, Pope Francis formally approved letting Catholic priests bless same-sex couples. The Vatican has been at pains to stress that the blessings do not amount to an approval of gay sex. It should not be seen as anything remotely equivalent to the Sacrament of Marriage for heterosexual couples.
On Sunday, January 14, 2024, Pope Francis said, “that those in the Catholic Church who have resisted this blessing have jumped to ‘ugly conclusions,’ because they do not understand it.
“The danger is that if I don’t like something and I put it (the opposition) in my heart, I become a resistance and jump to ‘ugly conclusions.’”
Previously the Pope has said, “The Lord blesses everyone. But then people have to enter into a dialogue with the blessing of the Lord and see the path that the Lord proposes. We (the Church) have to take them by the hand and lead them along the path and not condemn them from the start. The Lord blesses everyone, everyone, everyone…..those who come. Every person.”
These are my own simple thoughts – I have been a Catholic priest for 55 years of my 80 years – almost 6 decades. Over this time I have known and witnessed three, four and even five generations within a family. I have seen many devoted, practicing Catholics who had a hard time accepting those who were divorced and/or are married outside the Church. I have known many devoted, practicing Catholics who had a difficulty accepting those who were gay and/or in a same-sex marriage.
But when their own child or grandchild got divorced and remarried outside the Church, or when their own child or grandchild came out and said that they were gay and entered into a same-sex marriage, the parents and grandparents came to accept and fully love their son or daughter or grandchild as much as they did their other children. They wound up giving them their blessing!
Here I think of the Prodigal Son Parable of Jesus. If the Prodigal Son who went off and blew the family inheritance on dissolute living, and then returned to the Loving Father with his gay partner, and begged forgiveness, would the Father have given him his blessing, put the best robe on him, a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet and then killed the fattened calf?
As I begin my 9th decade on earth, I ask myself why I am so much like the older brother who refuses to go in and celebrate with God my Father and offer my brother my sincere blessing!!
When was the last time YOU ached to know or to feel God’s blessing? What was the end result?
DON’T MISS OUT ON A BLESSING TODAY BECAUSE IT IS NOT PACKAGED THE WAY YOU EXPECT!!
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