During the Lunar New Year, I was in Chinatown to do some errands. I chanced upon a make shift altar erected in honor of the Buddha with so many people lining up to offer first incense to him for blessings during the year. I really would not mind this practice of religion if it were not for the fact that those who lined up were not Buddhists. They were not even Chinese but Filipino Christians who would do anything (even worship a false god) in order to receive blessings for the new year.
We all want to be blessed and we all want to live a truly blessed life. But who are the truly blessed? To many of us, the rich business tycoons, beauty pageant winners, powerful politicians are among those who we would most likely call blessed people. “Blessed na blessed!” we would say about them. But the Lord would say otherwise. He said that the ones who are truly blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure of heart, peacemakers, the persecuted, the mocked and slandered people. Listening to the Lord’s list, we would find it difficult to believe that these people live blessed lives. How can they be blessed when in fact they seem to be suffering some want or lack? When looking at these people, we do not say “blessed na blessed.” Rather, we say “kawawa.” Indeed, these people are not what the world would consider as the “haves” but rather they are the “haves not.”
But St. Paul tells us: “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, he chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, he chose those who count for nothing to reduce to nothing those who were something, so that no human being might boast before God.” The people included in the list of the beatitudes are definitely the ‘have nots” but ironically, they have everything because God chooses to give himself to them. He gives them his kingdom, his comfort, his inheritance, his satisfaction, his mercy. He will show himself to them. He calls them his own children. “Their reward will be great in heaven!”
When God created the human being, he left in each of us a space, a vacuum which cannot be filled by anything nor by anyone except by him. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Nothing created has ever filled the heart of man. God alone can fill it infinitely.” And this is the true blessing: God’s gift of himself. God who fills the entire universe is the only one who can satisfy the longings of the human heart. It is when the longings of the heart are satisfied, it is then that we are truly happy.
And so, if you want to be blessed during this new year, don’t offer incense to some strange god. Don’t buy charms nor engage in incantations. Rather, do what the prophet Zephaniah said in the first reading: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger…they shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.”
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!