the gospel of Blessing
reflections from Fr. Rob on World Mission Sunday
Last Monday I responded to a call for help from our friend, Chris Morgan. He had some friends who had run out of gas to run the generator to heat their trailer, and asked if I would fill up several gas canisters.
I followed Chris in his pickup truck to a massive parking lot across from Walmart in West Chicago, where Mike and Linda had parked their trailer. We picked up Linda and 4 five-gallon canisters, and headed to the nearest Costco.
The Costco gas attendant helped me manipulate the gas nozzle to fill the red plastic containers, but told me that the one yellow container was against regulation.
Linda protested. “It’s just like the red ones, only yellow! Whaddya’ got against yellow?”
“No yellow!” The attendant was adamant.
So we filled the red cans, loaded them onto the truck, and Chris asked me to pray for all of them before we parted. “We want a good prayer,” he said. “Special.”
I looked at the empty yellow canister, and then at Chris and Linda. “Do you want me to bless you with a prayer or with gas in your yellow canister?”
“Well, if you put it that way, we’ll go for the gas!” Chris said.
Linda cackled, “If we ask for prayer and get gas instead, I’m gonna’ pray real hard every day!”
We drove across the street to the Mobile station, filled up the yellow canister, and as we said goodbye, I said, “Now for the prayer.” As we stood behind the truck, I asked God to bless them and their families.
This is World Missions Sunday. We could call it World Blessing Sunday.
God’s dream for the world has been described in many ways in the past: “fulfilling the Great Commission,” “obeying Christ’s last command,” “reaching the unreached,” “seeking the lost,” and “rescuing the perishing.”
All these are good, but they don’t capture the fullness of God’s purpose for His world.
In Genesis 12: 1-3, God shares His dream with Abraham. “I will bless you,” He says, “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
This passage describes a turning point in history. The arrogance of the human heart, displayed in the building of the Tower of Babel, led to God’s judgment. Humanity became divided and dispersed. But God’s judgment was also restorative. His plan for a diverse people alienated from Him and from one another was to bless them. God commissioned Abraham to bring healing to this divided and broken world by promising to bless all nations through Him.
At creation God blessed humankind and gave us a mandate to fill the earth and cultivate and care for it. (Gen 1:26-28, 2:15). The Abrahamic mandate connects the original blessing of creation with the future promise of blessing the nations. God’s work of redemption in Abraham is ultimately the restoration of God’s original plan in creation to bless all nations.
We are not called to conquer but commissioned to bless.
God’s dream for the whole world is blessing.
God’s got the world covered if each of us simply blesses whoever He puts before us, in whatever way they need it.