Study: Consider when you were blessed with strength and guidance in a tough time. How did you experience this blessing?
Pray: We all know many people who are having a tough time right now. Ask the Lord to give them the courage and conviction to carry on.
Serve: Is there some way you can be a blessing to another? How might you use your gifts and talents to alleviate suffering today?
Let’s take a quick review of the readings:
- 1st Reading – Jeremiah speaks of blessings and curses in relationship to the Lord
- Psalm – “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”
- 2nd Reading – St. Paul preaches about the resurrection of Jesus Christ
- Gospel – Jesus offers a series of blessings and woes in Luke’s Gospel
There is a dangerous trap that Christians must always be alert to avoid. It runs like this:
- I follow Christ and carry out his commands.
- I strive to live a good and holy life.
- Therefore, because I am a “good” person, God will bless me with an easy life.
In other words, since I am doing what God commands, God owes me. We often find this thinking surfaces when something bad happens – and illness, death, reversal of fortune, pain, or any number of bad scenarios – and suddenly people start blaming God. “Why is God doing this to me? I’m a good person! I don’t deserve this!”
The trap misleads us into thinking that our faith is suppose to protect us from the unfortunate. If we buy into this concept, then we begin to treat our faith at best as a legal contract and at worst as a magical formula where we have power over God.
Life is hard. Life makes demands and challenges us with pain, discomfort, struggle and testing. While we might wish that all days were easy, we know that tough times come along.
And in the face all these obstacles God blesses us with grace, uniting us in our relationship with the Lord and one another. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are blessed when our lives are configured to God and cursed when we step away from the Lord. We can be tempted to trust more in fleeting things like wealth, power, good looks or fame, yet only God offers the enduring strength of love in this life and the next.
The next time something difficult happens, ask this one question: How does my faith in Jesus Christ help me right now? We are blessed when we experience God’s grace to face life’s obstacles. We are blessed when we allow the Lord to work through our lives – even when it’s hard. We are blessed when we receive God’s love with open and gentle hearts.
May God bless us all with exactly what we need to continue on our journey through life today.