Blessedness is not the same as belonging
While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11, 27–28)
Though the word “blessed” is used two times in the above passage,there is one clear way to be blessed. Two interpretations I have commonly heard are 1. Glorification of Mary (one person who is eligible to be called blessed according to both criteria) 2. Works (actions ) over words. I can’t disagree anywhere on these two, but a contemporary reading may give much more.
- Who is a Christian? One of the simple definitions may be, one who is baptized… which means professing the basic tenets of faith. Some of us might go a little further saying that it is having a relationship with Jesus.
- What is your identity? Being blessed or being a Christian? Authentic Christian might show through his life that both can go together, but it is not a foregone conclusion.
3. An authentic blessedness is not in belonging, but in hearing and observing the word of God. Now the question is how can we observe, if we don’t hear — hear the word of God. Now what is this word of God? Some might say it was limited to the Old Testament; later, Christians included the New Testament too. Some thinkers would include two other sources — inner self and the entire creation. Surprising for many Christians, we may even find it echoed in many (definitely not all) actions or words of our secularised culture. Now there can be questions, whether what I heard is the word of God or not?
The fruits of life may be the best guide to check. And what are those fruits?
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, cloth yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3, 12)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal 5, 22–23).
Belonging without hearing the word of God and observing it is useless.
Hearing and Observing the word of God (even without belonging officially) is blessedness, and in a deeper sense, there is a deep belonging.
Best check-up is to look at the fruits.
In a context of ecumenism, Br Alois (the prior of Taizé) said that “there is communion, which is real, though not perfect”. I think if Christians (practising Christians) can sense communion (real and imperfect) existing with people of other religions and atheists (simply… all humans), journey to Peace becomes easier. The fruits, which are the signs of blessedness, are also the tangible signs of communion (if we have eyes to hear, and ears to hear).
NB: When I used the word communion, it is not denying the differences that exist. But differences needn’t force us to forget the real and imperfect communion that is already there.
NB: Christianity is belonging to Jesus. But belonging is to be understood not a right/heritage (or me being prince/princess), but as discipleship. Once we understood belonging as discipleship (which is also hearing and observing the word of God), it is blessedness.