Reflections from Fr Jennings: Our Sacred Stories: God and Us – God Takes Delight in Us
In the midst of a pandemic, faced with challenges to our climate, concerned about the fragile peace of our world, encountering upset and uncertainty in global social and political life, it is not surprising that we can be anxious. Perhaps we need to consider how God sees us.
If we take a look at the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, we find that the author reflected that at the end of creation God viewed it. The writer says: God saw all that was made, and indeed it was very good (Gen.1:31). There is probably no clearer statement of the goodness of creation, our world and each and every creature on the earth – including ourselves. Genesis is a reminder that God takes delight in all these works that form creation. God does indeed see you and I and every created thing as a blessing.
Many years ago, traveling in Ireland, I witnessed an expression of blessing. Sitting in a pub for lunch, we noticed a group of truckers at the bar who were finishing off their Guinness. As each one got up and began to leave, the others called out to him, “God bless you now, safe drive.” They knew that God took delight in each of them.
What do we do when we bless someone? Essentially, we are imitating God. We are indicating that like God, we take delight in that person, that this person is special to us. This is what the voice from heaven exclaimed as the Spirit descended on Jesus after us baptism in the Jordan: This is my son, the beloved in whom I delight (Matt.3:17). This delight is an expression of the Father’s favour resting on the Son. It is a blessing. Because we take delight in a person, like God we want the best for them. It is this that calls parents to bless their children, friends to bless their friends, members of a community to bless one another, and yes, truckers to bless their fellow truckers in an Irish pub.
Such delight appears in Matthew’s Gospel as the introduction to what we call the Sermon on the Mount(Matt 5:1-12). Jesus begins the Sermon with a series of blessings (Beatitudes). These are blessings conferred on us, all of us in the many experiences of our lives. God constantly sees the goodness that rests in us and in all creation. Jesus will go on in the Sermon to call us to let this goodness, this “salt” and “light”, shine before our world. But it is important that we first recognize that God blesses us with this goodness – even when we do not feel that goodness.
We need to know that God indeed does take delight in us and in all of creation. Our universe and all that it contains is the handiwork of God. If God takes delight in it, so too should we. This is the sense of the final words of Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato si: On the Care of Our Common Home. He concludes his thoughts with what can be a prayer of us all, as we face the challenges of our time.
God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all,
offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way.
In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much is always present.
He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone,
for he has united himself definitively to our earth,
and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.
Praise be to God.
Feast of All Saints