The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth to the land of your kinsfolk, and from your Father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make you a great generation and I will bless you. And the communities of the earth will find blessing in you.” I want to talk this morning a little bit about blessing and what it means to be blessed. It is one of the important sacramentals in our faith – that we are blessed.
I remember growing up that my father would come to each one of his six children and kneel next to us in our bed. We would pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be and pray for each of our siblings and grandparents. Then he would bless us, and he would make the Sign of the Cross on our forehead. I remember what a beautiful ritual that was to end our night.
Then there are people who have never experienced their father’s blessing. I know of one man that was coming to see me. His father had died, and he broke down crying. He said to me, “Fr. Michael, my father never once said I love you to me. I never ever heard him say I love you.” That is some of the World War II generation that just did not know how to be affectionate or how to love their children.
Another woman came to me. She was talking about her own experience with her father. Her father was an alcoholic, and she would often be abused physically and emotionally. She lived in terror in her own house. When she would go to visit her grandfather, she experienced in her grandfather, this unconditionally loving father. Her grandfather would dote on her, spoil her and delight in her. For her, that was the image of a father.
Then I think of a young man, a recovering alcoholic, who had a bad time with his family.
He was kind of the black sheep of the family. There was a father figure that came into his life and really helped him to know that he was loved and valued and appreciated. He did everything for this kid, and it completely transformed who he was into a wonderful young, gentle man.
It is so important for us to know that we are loved and to be blessed by the Father. Now, ultimately, all fathers are all called to bless their children and to help people know that they are loved, and that they are cherished, and that they are honored. But sometimes, as humans, we do not do that.
Sometimes our human fathers fail us, sometimes our father figures fail us, and sometimes our priests fail us. But, we need that blessing.
So, I want you to think to yourself. Have you experienced a father’s blessing? Did you know that you are loved and delighted in by your father? Did he tell you he loved you. Did he bless you? Did he delight in you? For many of us, we find that our fathers come up short. Our human fathers, our father figures or our priests, they come up short.
We need that blessing that we are yearning for and, until we get that blessing, we are looking for it in all the wrong ways and all the wrong places.
What I want you to do, if you are comfortable, is to hear the Father’s blessing right now. God can speak right now, through me, his priest, his Fatherly blessing upon you. What I would like to do is bless you.
So, if you are comfortable, I want you to close your eyes for the next couple of moments, and I want you to try to imagine the father figure in your life. The most loving man you have ever known or any image you have of God the Father that is good.
Maybe it is like the image of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son where God the Father runs to his son, embraces and kisses him. Or maybe it is like the Good Shepard holding his lost sheep. Whatever it is, try to imagine that father figure that you feel safe with and that you know loves you and wants to bless you.
And, if no one comes to your mind, I just want you to listen to my voice, and let me be the voice of the Father. Trust that the Father can speak through me and bless you. Here is what the Father wants to say as he blesses you.
My dear child, I am so glad that you are here with me. I love being with you. I love you. You are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter. You are beautiful to me in every way. There is no flaw in you, no blemish. You are perfect. You lack nothing. You are pure. You are holy. You are strong. You are smart. You are patient and understanding. You have worked so hard with the challenges that have been given to you. The struggles, the pain and you have never given up on Me. You are good and you are capable of giving and receiving so much love.
I delight in continuing to mold and fashion you and journey with you as I continue to shape you into my image. You have overcome so much in this life, and you are my child and I care for you and love you so deeply. You are precious to me. I love the sound of your voice. I love it when you laugh. I love when you speak to me and pray with me. You are the joy of my heart. I love you unconditionally, even when you sin.
I will walk with you through the valley of darkness and I will heal and protect you from any hurt and redeem and restore any part that has been wounded, especially the deepest darkest places. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I dedicated you. I have anointed you with oil at your Baptism and sealed you with that oil in your Confirmation.
All the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and gentleness, self- control, charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long suffering, humility, fidelity, faithfulness, modesty, self- control, chastity I have given to you.
You are wonderful to me. I am wild about you. I take such delight in you. I am interested in everything in your life. I rest my hand upon you and bless you. I hold you in my arms. I believe in you. I have faith in you. I will never abandon you. I am with you always and will never fail you. You are my light in the world.
You can open your eyes now. I just encourage you to think about blessings in your own life. First of all, if you are a parent, bless your children. Make sure you do that every night or every morning before they go off to school. Bless them. Make the Sign of the Cross on their forehead. Say something good about them. Bless them. Tell them that they are good. Say something good that you love about them.
If you are fortunate to still have your parents and you have never received their blessing, it is not too late. Ask them for their blessing. You might have to coach them and walk them through it. Ask them to bless you. You might even have them record it for you, so that you can continue to listen to it even after they are gone.
Maybe that is something you do for your children. Record your voice of blessings for them so that whenever they are going through a difficult time, they can pull out their phone and hear the blessing. If you have never experienced a blessing, think of a father figure that you know that is good and gentle, whom you trust and ask him to bless you.
And finally realize that you are called to bless. That God wants to bless through your hands as well – not only your children, but people you may see that are struggling or going through a difficult time. People that are lonely. People that are isolated. You can bless them.
And when we have all experienced this wonderful blessing of God, it will fill our hearts with such joy and love, not only for God, but we will want to bless other people. He does desire to delight in you, and he wants you to know how loved you are by him.