[Read today’s readings here!]
Every night when I tuck my children into bed, I give them the blessing that the Lord gave to the Israelites in the Book of Numbers:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
What does it mean to be blessed and kept by God?
I have so many hopes for my children. I hope that God will bless them in particular ways: Blessed with friends, and safety, and even the ability to control their tempers!
Yet, I must be satisfied with the knowledge that they are loved by God. Ultimately I am not in control of their lives or destinies. Similarly, Jesus’ destiny was outside of Mary’s control. How she must have wished it differently!
When the shepherds came to visit, they had fantastic things to say about the helpless baby. Mary must have known what an extraordinary challenge she had undertaken with her fiat, but did she know all the heartbreak, betrayal, and pain that Jesus would have to endure? Was she able to discern the blessings amid the trials? Did the shepherd’s faith (which she reflected on “in her heart”) bolster her own faith in the years following?
We have all given our own fiat to God. Even when we are able to recognize the enormous responsibility we are accepting, our vocations – as family members, in ministry, and the myriad other ways we say YES! to God – are fraught with the unknown. Fortunately, as Paul tells us, we are able to cry out to God as our Abba! Our Father!
May that same Father, who “blesses and keeps” us, bless us with peace – on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Happy New Year!