Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Blessing of Discomfort

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide,
be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.

Blessing by Sister Ruth Fox, Order of Saint Benedict (OSB)

A friend's Christmas letter ended with this blessing.  I can think of no better challenge as we enter another year, another span of time wrought by challenge, pain, sorrow, wars and rumors of wars.  

It's an odd blessing, perhaps, this notion of seeking from God discomfort rather than comfort . . . anger rather than calm acceptance . . . tears rather than laughter . . . foolishness rather than wisdom . . . 

But contained within such words of blessing is the acknowledgment that we are put here not for ourselves or our own ends; rather, we are here to tend towards God . . . 

Tomorrow is the feast day for the observance of the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents (Matthew 2.16-18) in the Roman Catholic tradition.  Protestants tend to shy away from this horror found right in the midst of the account of the birth and first years of Jesus.  Scholars will claim it didn't happen.  Folks in the pews simply will not notice this account of infanticide, glossing over such a harsh narrative in favor of the wise men coming to pay homage to the Christ child with a glance at the holy family's flight into Egypt, without much thought or attention given to the reason for the flight.

Jesus' first human status was 'refugee'.  

Before he was 'teacher', before he was a learned student or even an impudent pre-pubescent, Jesus was a refugee.  And the occasion for the family's flight was infanticide:  the killing of children en masse.  

It is appropriate in our collective remembering that we join with our Catholic brothers and sisters and remember the holy innocents, and in remembering, to have our own fire for justice rekindled within.

Sisters, brothers, may you be blessed this day with the discomfort of knowing there is work to do towards God's own justice . . . righteousness . . . and peace . . . and that you are called to do it.


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