“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:3.11).
When it comes to blessings, author Scott Dannemiller writes: “I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed, like the amen at the end of a prayer. ‘This new car is such a blessing.’ ‘Finally closed on the house; feeling blessed.’ ‘Just got back from a mission trip; realizing how blessed we are.’ On the surface, the phrase seems harmless, faithful even. But it has to stop! The problem? Nowhere in scripture are we promised worldly ease in return for our pledge of faith. In fact, the most devout saints from the Bible usually died penniless receiving a one-way ticket to prison or death by torture. The truth is, I have no idea why I was born where I was or why I have the opportunity I have. It’s beyond comprehension. But I certainly don’t believe God has chosen me above others because of the veracity of my prayers or the depth of my faith. Still, if I take advantage of the opportunities set before me, a comfortable life may come my way. It’s not guaranteed. But if it does happen, I don’t believe Jesus will call me blessed.
“So, my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house or my job or my standard of living. No, my blessing is this: I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me, within all of us.”
As you continue your journey to the Cross this Lenten season, make some time to examine your thinking on what it is to be blessed. Read the Beatitudes, and pick one of them to focus on. Ask God for the grace to be kind and loving to one another. Notice when people are showing mercy, need to be comforted, or love out of the purity of their hearts. Our God loves us and has given us the same capacity to love others. This is what it means to be blessed and to be a blessing.