Many people have asked “How do you feel after your heart surgery and rehab?”
The answer is that I feel “blessed”. I feel blessed that the leaking heart valve was diagnosed in the first place, or I might have continued to be unaware of it until I had a stroke or heart attack out of the blue, as happened to my mother. I feel blessed to be under the excellent care of the doctors, nurses and surgeons of the Heart Institute, for whom my surgery, though a massive event for me, was just a routine everyday thing. I feel blessed to not have had any pain or infection throughout my recovery. I feel blessed to have had the warm loving care of my dear friends, Janet and Louis Seward who graciously opened their home to me for the duration of my rehabilitation. I feel blessed to have the love, encouragement, and prayer support of all of you before, during and after this time. I am blessed to have had the help of Fathers Francis, Michael, Tavis, and Adolphus to supply for me during my absence, and to know that deacon Louis, with the sacristans, readers, Eucharistic ministers, ushers, prayer groups and office staff, was taking care of business during my time away.
We are told to “count our blessings”, aren’t we? And those are mine, brothers and sisters.
Note I say “I am blessed”. I used to say “I am lucky”. Not anymore. These good things that I have experienced over the last few months are indeed blessings, not chance happenings. Because we are in relationship with a God of “blessing”, whose one desire is to bless us, who turns even the bad things in our lives into good things, in accordance with St Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans, that “God turns all things too good for those who love him, and are called according to his purpose “ (Romans 8: 28). Look again at our responsorial psalm today and count the number of times the words “God” and “bless” are put together.
When bad things happen to us, it is not because God deliberately sends them, but that he allows them to happen, and only because he intends to bring a greater good out of the bad, as our Catholic Catechism reminds us. So much of the bad in our lives comes about because of someone making bad use of the divine gift of free will. Sometimes it is our personal choices which lead to the bad things; often it is others who misused their free will and caused harm to us or to those we love. Do we wish God had never created us with the gift of free will? Sometimes, looking at the atrocities taking place in our world, I want to say “yes”. But then I have to ask myself, “Do you wish God had made you into a robot, who always does the right thing, because I have no other choice? And my answer is “No” I treasure the gift of free will, even when I or others misuse it. How do you feel, brothers and sisters, when you read of regimes and laws which take away people’s freedoms and force them, through fear of harm or death to comply with them?
So I choose to believe that God’s word is true, that we are in relationship with a God “of blessing” who wants us to embrace his blessings, and see them at work everywhere in our lives, rather than be suspicious of him and believe that he is only out to get us. God’s word, our Catholic Christian faith that “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son not to condemn us, but to save us” (cf John 3:16, 17) and my personal experience, all tell me that I am not “lucky” but “blessed.”
How about you, brothers and sisters?