27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
There are mothers who would approach me with their children and each would say some version of this request: “Father, can you please bless my child?” If I know the mother, before blessing her child, I’d usually say, with smile on my lips, “You know, I should not be the only one blessing your child.” “Your child is in greater need of blessing from you than from me.” “You should be the one blessing your child, and you should be a blessing to your child.”
Today’s gospel passage talks about this one detail: “People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them.” The disciples try to stop them, but Jesus says, “Let the children come to me.” He wants them to come to him to embrace them, to bless them, to place his hands on them.
It is the duty of parents to bring their children to the Lord to be blessed. What I am talking about is not just bringing the children to the church and asking the priest to bless them by putting his hands on them and saying a little prayer. And the blessing I am referring to (the blessing they need)is not just the material and physical blessings and favors. “Bringing our children” to the Lord has a profound meaning. It means helping them to have a deep, intimate, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It means teaching them to put the Lord Jesus at the center of their lives. It means making them realize and accept their total dependence on God. Bringing our children to the Lord to be blessed means helping them to receive God’s grace – letting them share or participate in God’s life, enabling them to be the best version of themselves.
Parents, this is your most important duty to your children: always have them blessed by the Lord Jesus. What does ‘blessing’ mean? In Latin, to bless is ‘benedicere’. The word ‘benediction’ derives from this. ‘Bene’ means well or good; ‘dictio’ means speaking. So, ‘benediction’ literally means: speaking well or saying something good of someone.
To bless someone, to say good things to someone, is the greatest affirmation we can give to that person. The blessing that we are referring to are not just words of praise for the good qualities or good works of our brothers and sisters. It is an affirmation of their dignity as God’s children.
If affirming words were something rarely spoken in your home growing up, let me give you some tips on words and phrases that can brighten your own child’s eyes and life. These words are easy to say to any child who comes into your life: “I love you. I thank God for you. I’m so blessed to have you.” “You don’t have to be the best among the rest. I love you as you are.” “You are very special to me. You are God’s greatest gift to me.” “You are the best. You sure tried hard. I couldn’t be prouder of you.” “Good work. I knew you can do it. I’m always here for you.”
Just as Jesus blessed the children, we too must bless our children. And we too must be a blessing to others. We too must “speak well of others.” We must learn to affirm and celebrate another’s worth, beauty, and uniqueness as a beloved child of God.
Let us be a blessing to them by sincerely appreciating the good they do and also by not making them feel so bad of themselves when they are not doing well. Let us be a blessing to them by constantly telling them how much we love them and how precious they are, by helping them experience deep in their heart that love is the only reason for our loving them. Let us bless them by affirming their belovedness… by letting them experience God’s unconditional love through our personal touch and genuine love.
However, we can only bless others – especially children – if we are aware that we are blessed by God. So, we must first discover how we are blessed by God before we can bless other people. We must realize how God has guided us by his love on every step of our lives. We must claim our blessedness.
A person who is truly blessed, wherever he or she is always speaks words of blessing. We are blessed by God. Let us also bless one another!