10/29/18 Weekly Reflection
Nov 2, 2018
We greet you in the name of our Lord Christ Jesus.
May the light of the Holy Spirit of our Lord, the Lord of love, mercy, and compassion shine upon all of us and may He grant us the knowledge, patience and wisdom to understand the richness of His teachings and missions which are intended to nurture our hearts and our lives.
A few years ago, I was researching names on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall website. I accidentally stumbled upon the name of a Marine, Private Lynn Blessing, who was killed towards the end of the war. I didn’t know him personally. He was from Pennsylvania and I’m from New York but for some inexplicable reason, I felt a connection to him. All I knew at the time was that we were about the same age and we were both married. I mourned his death, I prayed for him, and I moved on.
Recently, I found myself thinking about Private Blessing again. I thought about how our lives turned out so differently although the motives for our decisions were so similar. I thought about all the blessings our Lord graced me with throughout the years. One Sunday, at a May 15 Mass, I couldn’t take my mind off Private Blessing. Why after all these years did he come to mind? I wondered why I felt this memory so strongly today? When I returned home, I felt drawn to learn more about Private Blessing. I searched the internet and was amazed at how much information I was able to find and how much we had in common.
We were both born in January, he married his childhood sweetheart and I married my high school sweetheart. I learned that he was dedicated to providing for his family as was I. He was laid off from his job and was contemplating joining the Marines to provide for his family, and I also considered joining for a short time. He chose to join the Marines and I chose to get a job with a large company. He was just a kid, like me, looking forward to what life had to offer. He died while on a mission trying to rescue sailors that were believed captured by the enemy.
I prayed in thanksgiving for all the blessings in my life; my wife, my wonderful daughters, my friends, my family, my Church, Cursillo and the rest of my life. I also found myself thinking about how it might have been for Private Blessing if he had lived. He wanted to make the Marines his career. Would he have had a wonderful career and retired as I did, to enjoy life in thanksgiving and praise? Would he have made a wonderful grandfather? What would he have been doing now? Then I recalled the scripture in 1 Peter 2:
If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
this is a grace before God.
For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.”
Private Blessing reminds us that we are called to do what is good in the eyes of our loving God no matter what the consequences might be...to fear no evil. He reminds us that our lives are a precious gift from our loving God and that we are all connected. We are one in the eyes of the Lord. We are all loved by the same God who wants nothing more than to belong to him. He reminds us that we must not take life…any life for granted.
Psalm 23 which reads:
“He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.”
I shed a tear for this young man when I came to the realization that he died over thirty years ago that same day when he entered my mind on May 15. In 1975, Private Blessing was on a mission to rescue the sailors of a US ship called the Mayaguez. The ship was named after a town in Puerto Rico, near where my family came from. Private Lynn Blessing left behind a wife and a son.
How wonderful that our heavenly Father would lead me on this journey of Thanksgiving and Praise that helped me to better appreciate the Lord’s blessings and the promise of life everlasting on the very day that Private Lynn Blessing lost his life. As we approach Veteran’s Day, let us honor and give thanks to those who served our country in the military. As we honor our veterans, perhaps it is fitting to honor their families as well, who sacrificed in their own way. Let us also honor those families who, like Private Blessing’s family, sacrificed so much in the service of our country. Tonight, I ask that you say a prayer for those who served in and out of uniform, doing what is good and honorable.
Say also, prayer of thanksgiving and praise for your own “private blessings”.