The old man was lying in a hospital bed. His breaths were shallow and were slowing in measured diminishment. Eyes closed and motionless, he occupied space that also accommodated his son and daughter-in-law. The stillness of the room was smothered by the tenderness of the moment and the son, lost in the sea of memory, stood and walked to the bedside.
He stood for a moment by the bed and then leaned to say something into the ear of this man who had been a monument of integrity. Having whispered in his ear, he knelt on the tile floor and took his father’s hand and placed it on his head. A short time passed and then he stood still holding the hand that had rocked him as a child and riveted him in place as he learned the values of moral and religious ethics. Placing the tired hand back on his father’s chest, he returned to his seat of vigil.
“What was that about?” she asked.
He turned to his wife and said, simply, “I asked him to bless me.”
We don’t know much about benedictions and blessings, do we? Actually, we think those in the ministry bless things and benedict things that need endings. They bless us as we leave church. They bless the offerings that are taken. They bless the animals. They bless the reading of God’s word. They bless newlyweds. They bless those who make meaningful decisions, etc.
Jesus, as recorded in Luke’s gospel, in a post-crucifixion appearance to a group of men, caught them by surprise. He often managed to do this, and the men were filled with angst and surprise and were afraid.
Jesus, seeing this, said simply, “Peace, be with you.” He said that a lot. Still not trusting their ability to discern His arrival, they held back from Him. He then asked if they had anything to eat. One man handed Him a piece of fish and He ate it. He then asked them to look at His hands, His feet, and to touch Him.
“Peace, be with you” was a blessing. He appeared to calm their fears, establish the fact that He had risen, indeed, and was the same man who had hung on the cross. Eating substantiated his humanity, and His blessing reinforced the habit that had been His from the beginning to bless their lives and their affirmation of faith.
We bless people and don’t know it. When we encourage them, support them, affirm them and stand with them. We grant them the awareness of our existence in life and allow them to feel the foundation of our faith as it relates to their endeavors.
There are times in life when we bid farewell to those who have influenced our lives, guided our steps, taught us how to make good decisions and by example, conducted themselves in the manner of Christ’s teachings. These are the people who took the time to be aware of us. They may be parents, friends, teachers, soulmates, etc., and their involvement in our daily lives was a consistent blessing of approval, temperance, observation and dedication to us as important people.
The son was aware that one of the most important people in his life was in the process of dying. As he sat in silence, his mind may have recounted the many times this man had kept him from falling. He may have been suddenly struck with the notion that many of the blessings in his life were the result of this man’s effort. And now, he was leaving.
“Peace, be with you”, Jesus said, and that was the blessing extended to all those in the universe. Each of us can have the blessing of God as we learn of Him, accept Him and live in the manner that He outlined while on earth.
We often yearn for the blessing of those whom we love. To possess it is to walk with strides of confidence and affirmation. Jesus loves us and grants the blessing of peace as we learn to walk more closely with Him.
The man asked his father to bless him. He desired to know that when the separation occurred, and as he walked in the paths of continuing challenge, his efforts carried with them the genuine bliss that comes from having been blessed. We can do this for one another and should. We just never think about it, do we?