Matthew 5:3-10 – Blessed are the poor in spirit…those who mourn…the meek…the hungry…the persecuted…the Kingdom of heaven is theirs.
God bless you! Blessing someone who sneezes is a very old tradition, originating at a time when it was believed that a person was very vulnerable to possession by evil spirits while they sneezed. A sneeze is an involuntary action, when one's eyes close, and breathing is interrupted. We are helpless for a second or two – perhaps longer, if you are one of those whose sneezing spells last for seven or eight good ones!
We have blessings for all sorts of occasions, including meals, services of worship, baptisms, and blessing of wedding rings during the marriage ceremony as well as of the newly married couple. Blessings come in many forms; there is no one set way of expressing them.
What on earth did Jesus mean that day, in the Sermon on the Mount, blessing the unemployed, the poor, the sick, the grieving? We don't usually perceive these states of being to be particularly blessed. The stress of an uncertain future, of not knowing how bills will be paid, or of suddenly confronting the loss of someone close are not occurrences we look forward to.
"Excuse me," Jesus says. "I'm not talking about the great Canadian dream of success and happiness forever. I'm talking about the Kingdom of God. It's a different way."
To be blessed and to be brimming over with happiness are not one and the same. Many things in life help us feel happy without blessing us. On the other hand, we can be blessed even in the midst of great grief.
To be blessed is not necessarily to have all the hurts removed from one's life, but rather, to somehow sense the unending love of God through them. It is in knowing that God is with us, in spite of all else we may experience, that we are truly blessed.
Jesus directs his Sermon on the Mount not only to those who have their lives together and under control, but also to those who are at the end of their rope. He tells the poor, the empty, the sad and lonely, "I'm on your side. I'm here for you."
Prayer: O God, whose wisdom is all-knowing, and whose strength is all powerful, draw us to yourself. We delight in the abundance with which you have blessed us. Even more, we delight in the gifts we have received in Christ Jesus. Bless us, now and in the future, we pray, in ways we least expect. Amen.