As we enter the Twelve Days of Christmas, the words of Dickens’ Tiny Tim readily resonate at this special time of year for it is so convenient for so many to fail to see the blessings of daily life during the often monotonous grind of ordinary time. To be sure, some of us may seem more blessed than others and perhaps there is an arguable relativism to our comparative stations in life. It’s easy to garner envy for those who are wealthy and powerful but despite their material gains and successes, we are all in need of something beyond power or gold. For those with higher levels of creature comforts, we may find pity, sorrow or even feel guilt because of those who are wanting and struggling while they, perhaps without our realizing it, find comfort and solace in an unshakable faith.
The post-pagan understanding of a blessing is “to be favored by God.” The modern meaning of the term may have been influenced in translations of the Bible into Old English during the process of “Christianization” to translate the term benedīcere meaning to “speak well of,” resulting in meanings such as to “praise” or “extol” or to speak of or to wish well.
It is no secret that I strive to be a man of faith. Perhaps struggle is a more apt description because faith is merely a personal choice. Like some of you, I fight an almost daily battle to make sense of this existence and the circumstances that surround us. Depending on one’s state of mind, it can be overwhelming to even attempt reconcile good and evil. It just can’t be done.
Faith is trust. You either have it or you don’t. It often seems incongruous to trust in anything that cannot be seen or perceived directly by our senses. After all, our trust is broken time and time again from that disappointing moment when we realized the truth about Santa or the tooth fairy and on from there as years of broken promises accumulate. Our personal relationships and behavior test our trust for ourselves and others over the years. It is easy to become jaded and skeptical.
So what about this notion of blessings? Are we favored by God and we just don‘t realize it? I suppose the answer all depends on your acceptance or rejection of faith. Some may believe that everything which happens is purely random without plan or purpose. I don’t believe that our lives are a series of coincidences and events of probability. Believing otherwise is contrary to an ordered universe. Without waxing metaphysical, I believe in and accept St. Thomas Aquinas’ notions of natural law that concludes that God has in His intellect an idea by which He governs the world. We are supposed to use our human gifts of reason and understanding to perpetuate order and prevent chaos. Perhaps we cannot bestow blessings upon ourselves but staying focused on God’s will instead of our own helps.
Blessings often come disguised as disasters, illnesses or even the death of a loved one. How is it possible that such negative events might bestow us with anything except grief, misery and sorrow. Willingness and acceptance come to mind; willingness to accept current circumstances and patience to see what is yet to come. If we are watchful, the blessing eventually appears.
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