We are part of 7.2 billion people in the world and each one of us has a story to tell. When Pope Francis spoke to us last week during his travels in the United States, he reminded us not to be afraid of the stranger in our midst, but to see them as an individual with their own unique story. And when we get to know the story of someone else, they are no longer a stranger. One of my great joys as pastor is to learn the stories of the people. And once you learn people’s story, you can never remain indifferent to them. In knowing them, we can be a blessing to them.
Today is the Feast of Francis of Assisi. At the heart of all that Francis did was a belief that God is present in everyone and everything. He knew that all things were a unique reflection of the presence of God. He challenged his followers to be attentive to people. To see the presence of God everywhere. He called people to be a blessing to others. I heard once, that the best description of a Christian is a person who by their very presence, makes you feel better about yourself and about life. These are the kind of people who speak well of others, who see the basic goodness in the lives of others and who are able to reflect that goodness back to them. That’s really what it means to be a blessing to others.
The truth is that all of us give off energy. Some people give off an energy that is life-taking and toxic. I’m sure you know those kind of people! They are the ones we want to run far from! It's really a matter of deciding what kind of energy we want to share. To be a blessing to others is to be the kind of people that others look forward to being around, rather than the kind of people that others hurry to get away from.
Being a blessing to others is reminding them that they are beloved sons and daughters of God. It is reminding them that they have worth and dignity. When Pope Francis visited the United States, many people talked about feeling blessed by being in his presence, even if it was just for a brief moment. We may not have any difficulty believing that Pope Francis would have this effect on people, but we may have more difficulty believing that we have that same effect on others. The truth is that what Pope Francis was sharing was not his own life and energy, but the energy and life of Jesus. He was allowing that life to flow through him to others. And the bigger truth is that Jesus uses us as well to give life to others, to bless others. To be a blessing for others is to allow the love and compassion of Jesus to flow through us to touch the hearts of others. Leaning into the journey