The gifts of blessings and peace…

Can there be any greater gift given to men on earth than the peace of God and his blessing? Here, the late Fr Slavko Barbaric comments on the gifts of blessing and peace.

• In Hebrew the word ‘blessing’ also means a gift, a grace and a peace. In Greek and in Latin this has the significance of saying something good about someone else, or to act good toward someone else. Whoever blesses gives something, and he becomes a new person for someone. It is a new relationship.

When God blesses us, then we know that he loves us and that he is with us. When Mary brings us God’s blessing, then she is bringing us the same that God brings us through his blessing. When we bless one another, then we are giving something that we have received. So when it concerns blessing, it concerns a new relationship that in Paradise was lost by way of sin.

After God created man, he was first in a relationship of friendship with him, for God had given man everything, and man was ‘blessed’, but man committed a sin in acting disobedient toward God and he thereby lost this friendship. He lost this blessing and God tells the snake, satan, that he is ‘cursed’, but the effects of the sin, the curse, also came upon man. So man lost this friendship and could no longer stay in Paradise. A bad relationship, an adverse relationship came about between man and God, between man and man, but also between man and nature because all of nature also turned itself against man.

From the biblical tradition we know, for instance, that God blessed Abraham with a special blessing, telling him that through him all humanity will be blessed, and that God will be blessing all those whom he will be blessing; and he tells Abraham that he will become a blessing for all others. Noah, too, is blessed in a special way, and this blessing will be passed onto his sons so that they, too, may renew the world with a new spirit. When Mary went to Elizabeth, Elizabeth greets her as ‘blessed among women’, and when Zechariah opens his mouth he blesses God. In this blessing, we say, the eschatological dimension is to found, and this means that the one who blesses is preparing the way for the Messiah. This is because everyone who blesses is taking upon himself to bring goodness into his relationship toward God, toward himself, toward the others and toward nature, as God had planned it – all the relationships that had become lost due to sin.

St Paul, in the letter to Ephesus, says that all of us who are blessed by Jesus are blessed in a spiritual way. Jesus himself blesses the bread before he multiplies it, and also before he gave us the Eucharist, He blessed the bread, blessed the wine and prayed over them. Jesus blesses his Apostles before his Resurrection, as he also gave them the assignment to bless, as well as becoming a blessing for others. Every time when they healed the sick, spread God’s word, forgave sins, or expelled demons, all they did was bring about more blessings.

It is also so important to understand that all of us are blessed with God’s blessing and with Jesus’ blessing, and that in this way we may also become a blessing for all others. It is especially important for us to know that we are freed of sins curses, and that we, as of now, may ourselves no longer curse. But it actually happens to us so very easily that we curse one another. A blessing is the way out of death into life, the way out of distress into peace, the way out of sorrow into joy, and the way out of darkness into light. Cursing means everything in the other direction. Whoever curses brings the others away from life into death, away from light into darkness, and away from community with someone into being isolated from someone.

Especially all parents must become conscious that they are blessed, and that they must also become a blessing for their children. When the parents love, when they live with one another in peace, when they reconcile, all this, one can say, is a fight for blessings and at the same time they will become a blessing for the children. How hard it is in families where no-one loves, where no-one has understanding for one another! One says that the curse is there and that they are cursed people who can no longer live in love, peace and trust with one another. Mary being with us, and all that she says and does, should really also become an example for us so that we may open ourselves to the blessing and that our acts may also become acts of blessing.

Peace is the very first fruit of Jesus’ blessing, because when he, through his Presence and through his miraculous power, speaks his blessing over us, all distress leaves us and peace comes to us. And because Jesus is so near to us throughout the Feast of Christmas, joy and love and the ability for us to forgive and to reconcile with one another is also near to us.

Why do we not have any peace? God did everything so that we may have peace, and Jesus came to us as peace and has blessed us with his Peace because he forgives us and he loves us. So we do not have this peace only because we do not open ourselves to it, and because we so easily seek peace on the wrong paths.

It can be said that because we want the simple peace, we listen to the wrong prophets. There is no such thing as a simple peace. Peace will only come when we really begin to engage ourselves to become good people and begin to fight against any pride, envy, and all dependencies. These are still the terrible fruits of the curse that is upon us, but the deep yearning for peace cannot be satisfied by any simple peace. That is why we can say, thank Heaven that the yearning for the true peace cannot be stilled and that we cannot, so to say, be tricked by any false peace simply because distress then still remains with us and, therefore, we eventually become consequential about it.

Someone who sinks into alcohol, into drugs, into an immoral way of life, into the lie, into the constant wish to gather more and more of the material world around himself will never find true peace, because our soul simply does not allow itself to be betrayed. That is why, in the deeper sense, man always remains one who yearns for true peace, and this goes for every human being and for all the world. From our own experience, we know of many people who have tried every imaginable way to acquire peace but who, at the end, have remained always discouraged and alone, and then finally they came around to opening themselves to true peace.

Here in Medjugorje, God, in this sense, really blessed because they have come and converted. The whole process of conversion begins at Confession when the Priest, in God’s name, speaks the words of absolution and the person is freed from the curse of the sin, and the heart then opens itself to peace and joy.

Man will always yearn for true peace and will eventually also find God, and every time that we assist someone on his way to God, then we have become a blessing for him. At this time we have by now expressed so many good wishes and this is good, but to be able to bless and to become a blessing for others, words alone do not suffice. To be able to bless, one really needs all of the person – the word, the act, and all that we do. All our wishes can become truth only when we decide to accept and to open ourselves to this blessing and, in Mary’s sense, to become a blessing for others.

Fr Slavko Barbaric OFM

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