Jewish blessings affirm that God is blessed. Our benedictions address God directly—“Blessed are You . . .” Who are we to so address God? Maybe the psalmist was right: “To You silence is praise . . .” (65:2). But sometimes when we behold the truly wondrous we can’t remain silent. We utter a word, maybe just an exclamation. Blessings highlight the extraordinary within the ordinary. At rare moments we feel overwhelmed by the bounty bestowed upon us. More often we take our good fortune for granted or assume that we deserve it. Blessings instruct us in gratitude; they point to the ultimate Source of All.
Blessing is a form of mindfulness, an acknowledgment of God’s presence in all of creation. It is a response to the holy “hiding” in the ordinary. Someone sneezes. “God bless you,” another responds. The desire to bless and be blessed lies deep within us. It is at once a response to the precariousness of our existence, and recognition of the Divine elusively present in our midst.
Christians inherited the tradition of blessing from biblical Israel, though with variant formulations. Jesus frames the values of God’s reign through a series of “blessed are” known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11 and Luke 6:17, 20-23). For example, in Luke’s version, Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
At the Last Supper, Jesus blesses bread and wine—a tradition Christians continue in the Eucharist.
God is blessed. Al Quddus (Holy and Blessed) is one of His names. We invoke His blessed name to be blessed ourselves. Muslims worship and supplications begin and end by invoking different names of God. Muslims worship God five times a day. At the end of each worship we thank Him for His blessings. Muslims invoke God’s blessing when we eat or drink; sleep or wake up; drive or travel; enter home or leave home; enter or leave a place of worship; witness suffering, sickness or a calamity; witness health, beauty, light of the day, new moon, new season or any other activity. Friday is a Muslim’s thanksgiving day. The Qur’an speaks of God’s creating the heavens and earth in six days, just as the Bible does. Friday is the blessed day because God completed creation and trusted people to act as His vicegerents and custodians on earth. The Muslims are commanded to worship God in a congregation on Friday noon, celebrating and thanking Him for all the blessings bestowed on humanity.