Recently, during one of my many airport experiences, I observed a young girl, maybe four years old, doing a little dance and calling out to her mother: “Mommy! Look! Mommy! Look at me! Mommy! LOOK!” Like every child, this little girl desperately wanted, not only her mother’s attention, but her mother’s approval and admiration. It’s our job as parents to turn our gaze to our children and to express our delight in them.
That’s what it means to bless someone. Ronald Rolheiser reminds us that the word blessing comes from the Latin benedicere which means to speak well of. He says:
To bless someone is, first of all, to see them, to genuinely see them, to look at them so that they sense that they are truly being recognized and given adequate reality to. Then, and this need not always be put into words but can be present right in that seeing, to bless someone is to take delight in them, to give them the gaze of admiration, to look at them in a way that says: “You are my beloved child, in you I take delight!”
The Psalms are filled with references of asking God to turn his face toward us (“Do not hide your face from me…” Ps 27:9). We all need to know that God takes delight in us—that God blesses us. I believe that we show and share God’s mercy by blessing others: by turning our gaze to those who sometimes feel invisible and expressing our delight in them.
As we prepare to celebrate the Sunday of Divine Mercy, let us trust that God’s gaze is always fixed on us and that he takes delight in us and then, out of gratitude, may we turn our gaze on others, especially those often ignored, and express delight in them, that they may experience God’s mercy!
P.S. I can think of no better way to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday than by reading Pope Francis’s book, The Church of Mercy!