Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Little Something Extra...Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

A Blessing

In today's first reading, God tells Moses that the Israelite priests are to bestow on the people the following blessing:

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!

Let's take a few minutes to study this powerful blessing in depth, for through it, God imparts some truly remarkable gifts.

The LORD bless you

The word for “bless” here is bârak, which means to give benefits. Think of the benefits God gives us: life, love, salvation, grace, intimacy with Him, heaven. Everything we have and everything we are come from Him as He blesses us in innumerable ways each and every day. Do you take time to thank Him?

and keep you!

The word for “keep,” shâmar, can also mean to observe, guard, protect, save, and even treasure. God watches over us like a protective father guards his precious children. In what ways have you experienced God's loving care?

The LORD let His face shine upon you,

The Hebrew word for “shine,” 'ôr, means to light up, kindle, or set on fire. God wants to set our hearts on fire with love for Him, and He wants us to become light for others as His radiant love shines through us. Are you on fire with love for God? Do you allow God to illuminate the world through you?

and be gracious to you!

To be gracious, in Hebrew chânan, is to bend or stoop in kindness, to show mercy or favor, and to have pity. God lavishes His grace upon us. He knows that we are sinners, yet He showers us in mercy. Do you reach up to God as He bends down to you in love?

The LORD look upon you kindly

God is always looking at us. This is not a negative thing. God is not standing over us as a harsh judge who watches our every move, waiting for us to slip up. God looks upon us with kindness, care, consideration, concern, and love. He loves us so much that He can't take His eyes off of us. His gaze sustains our very being. Are you looking back at God?

and give you peace!

The Hebrew word for “give” here is sûm. It conveys a sense of permanence and can mean to ordain, fix, or establish. The Hebrew word for “peace,” shâlôm, indicates that peace isn't just the absence of strife. It is, rather, the completeness or wholeness that comes from living in a covenant relationship with God. Do you live in God's peace?

You may wish to memorize this magnificent blessing and pray it frequently over your loved ones, for God is always ready to pour out His gifts in abundance.

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