Loved Ones -
This Tuesday would have been Ray's 44th Birthday.
Last weekend in church our Responsorial Psalm was the Responsorial Psalm from our wedding. In the 14 years since our wedding, I've probably heard that Psalm 2-3 times. So, noteworthy. I loved our Responsorial Psalm, we picked it because it described our children as olive plants. Both Ray and I loved olives, they remind us of the Holy Lands, and it was lovely to think of our children growing in this way.
The refrain of the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 128) reads like this:
"Blessed are those who love you, happy those who follow you, blessed are those who seek you, Oh God."
And these are the verses:
"Happy those who fear the Lord and walk in God's pathways, you will find what you long for, the riches of our God."
"Your spouse shall be like a fruitful vine in the midst of your home, your children flourish like olive plants, rejoicing at your table."
"May the blessings of God be yours all the days of your life, may the peace and the love of God live always in your heart."
I can see Ray and I as a young couple picking out this Psalm for our wedding. It creates such a picture doesn't it? It is truly idyllic.
More difficult is the actual picture.
And yet. I will stand on the fact that this Responsorial Psalm is as true for us today as it was then. Truer.
In the Scriptures, blessing is a funny thing. It's not quite what you think.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for THEY WILL BE COMFORTED.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3-10
I don't see a whole lot of idyllic in that passage. But I do see truth. Truth I have lived. Truth I have clung to. And I see blessing. Blessing that comes from finding ourselves unequal to the task. Blessing that comes from God's strength, greater than ours can ever be. Blessing from asking only that our lives, our person, be transformed to be like his.
We ARE finding what we long for and boy do we long for it. The riches of God.
Our children ARE like olive plants, they DO rejoice at the table.
The peace and love of God IS ALWAYS in our hearts.
It is not understandable what Ray endured. Neither is God. But he says Blessed. He says the Kingdom of Heaven. I have no doubt that's where Ray is now.
Happy Birthday Ray. It isn't what we thought it would look like but we are blessed.
not alone and not afraid -
"Thus far has the Lord helped us." I Samuel 7:12