Blessing is a very Christian-ese kind of word. We don’t really ever hear the word outside of a Christian- and church-context; but in church, we hear the word frequently. When people sneeze, we might still say to them “God bless you.” (Which actually comes from the middle ages and the horrible experience of the Black Death / Bubonic Plague which killed tens of millions of people across Eurasia in the late 14th century. When a person sneezed it could indicate that they were sick and therefore likely to die. Nice!) Friends might still say to me when I’ve done something good, “Oh bless your heart!” When walking with a friend through the Austrian alps many years ago, I discovered that the common greeting was “Gruss Gott” (God Bless) – which is a much lovelier greeting than any of our English versions. [I note that Google translate indicates that Gruss Gott means ‘Good day’ – sigh!]

So what is blessing all about? Where does it first appear in the bible? On the very first page, in Genesis 1.

  • First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-8 (A curse on those who trust in humanity; a blessing on those who trust in the Lord.)
  • Responsorial Psalm 1:1-4 – Happy are they who hope in the Lord.
  • Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12.16-20 (If Christ is not raised from the dead, your faith is in vain.)
  • Gospel ‡ Luke 6:17.20-26 (Happy are the poor. Woe to the rich!)
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