I chose this specific date for a reason. For several reasons, really. Can anyone live September 11th each year without recounting the events of the Twin Towers? Today is also my Father’s birthday. He would have been 94 today. And one year ago today I injured my leg. It is still not completely healed and gives me some pain and discomfort when walking. Dates are important to us, and specific dates will cause us to remember events: some happy, some sad, some tragic. I track many things on my Google calendar, especially when those I’ve loved have died, so at least on that day each year I will not only remember to pray for their souls but will revel in the joy these folks brought to my life. March 10th for me is another special date. It is the day I took my Mom’s cat to live with me. It was just two weeks before Mom died. Her Sophie has been a comfort and a remembrance of my Mom and a little piece of her still with me. All the events of our lives are important in one way or another.
Everything that happens in our lives, all these events, can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse. It depends on how we live out our Faith as to how we are affected. Often we curse events, but later realize that somewhere in the pain and sorrow we find blessing. Easy to do with the good things that happen, not so easy with the painful.
Jesus, today, delivers a lecture about who is blessed and who is cursed. How do we understand his words? Blessed are you who are poor – really? – yours is the Kingdom of God; blessed are you who are hungry – really? – you will be satisfied, and blessed are you who are weeping – really? – you will someday laugh. How is the man standing on the street corner begging for shelter blessed? Or the person who is hungry for food or spiritual understanding, or the woman weeping for her loss or lack of security?
And conversely, to you who are rich or filled or who laugh now. Woe to you. How? How can that be? You are cursed if you take the blessings you have been given and keep them selfishly to yourself, and not realize that these “good things” of the earth were given you to then give to others. The poor man is blessed because you helped to provide meals and a place to sleep; those who are weeping will be blessed because you gave comfort and empathy and a realization that they do not have to journey alone. And if you are hated and excluded because you boldly proclaim Jesus? Are you blessed? Yes! You will someday find Jesus standing on his promise to deliver you from all the pain when you share his joy in heaven.
This is the paradox of Christianity. Be humbled here on earth, even if you have riches, and you will rejoice. Those without riches on this earth, who bear the hardship with faith and hope in Our Lord, and with our assistance, will reap the rewards of heaven where every tear is wiped away.
I pray that as you recount the events of your life, among them will be the days you realized that the Lord has given you good things even among the tragedies. I pray that of the days you will mark on your calendar of life, among them will be the days you helped another to go from weeping to laughing, hunger to fulfillment, sorrow to joy and faithfulness to the Lord to the rewards of heaven.
“Rejoice and leap for joy! Your reward will be great in heaven. Alleluia, alleluia.”
Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at email@example.com.