Reflect’On. 4th Sunday Ordinary Time. Cycle A-2020. Mt 5:1-12a
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…
Aatzhuu! Excuse me.
As soon as I sneeze, I hear ‘bleshu’ from somewhere, like an echo following closely behind my sneezing.
Since I sneeze a lot, I hear “bleshu” said a lot. While I hear it said warmly at times, it is said coldIy most of the time, prompting me to muffle my sneezing for fear I could be annoying people.
At one time I tried to ask why people say ‘bleshu’ when someone sneezes. Most of them do not know the answer, although one offered a ridiculous theory. “When somebody sneezes,” he said, “the breathing stops, and that could lead to suffocation and death.” ‘Bleshu,’ accordingly, is a prayer invoking God’s power to save from death someone who sneezes.
People who say words too frequently eventually say them instinctively, without feelings. They rehash the words to loosen the accents, thus enabling them to say these quickly. The exhortation “May God bless you” was cropped to “God bless you,” then cropped further to the phrase “Bless You,” and ultimately corrupted to a mere interjection, “Bleshu.”
Conscious of growing God-bashing, I have become, like many, intimidated from expressing the name of God in public. But I realized that by dropping his name from an expression of blessing I had yakked its power out. When the active ingredient of a headache medicine is removed, the resulting formula would not relieve pain. Similarly dropping “God” from a blessing exhortation renders that blessing inert (cf. Num. 6:27). Putting “God” back to “bless you” restores its blessing power, just like putting the active ingredient back to an impotent headache medicine restores its curative power.
Another power-packed exhortation nearing extinction is “Have a blessed day.” I do not know if God’s name was originally part of it, but even now I am beginning to hear it corrupted to “Blesday.”
Someone suggested that Christian well-wishers should say “Have a blessed day” rather than “Have a nice day.” Great idea, but be on guard from the bashing rage of a Deophobe. On the other hand, this greeting may just be the saving word to draw someone despairing away from the ledge.
I tried saying “Have a blessed day” to people who come to the store I work in. In two weeks saying it to about a hundred people, I did not see anyone offended; a few did not react, or did not answer; but, a majority returned an appreciative “Thank you” or “Same to you”. The silent few may have been taken aback to respond, or may have been too courteous to show annoyance. From the majority, the appreciation was not much different from a casual response to “Good luck,” although about five were elated.
The cold response of the majority could be partly due to my greeting some awkwardly. Mind you, I sometimes caught myself saying it too fast that I may have unconsciously corrupted the expression myself. There were many times that I felt too shy saying it that I could not establish eye contact. I feel loosening up each time, but I am still far from saying “God bless you” as naturally as I say “Hello, how are you.”
Giving or receiving a blessing could be easier if everyone understood the meaning of blessing. When the Lord dispenses blessings through someone, he grants the recipient life, love and peace that includes prosperity and happiness (cf. Num 6:25-27). When God blesses, as Jesus taught in the beatitudes, He provides the recipient the courage to follow the path to righteousness, the strength to face difficulties, and the ultimate reward of joyfully adoring him (cf. Mt 5:1-12; CCC 1078).
For you out there who do not know the etymology of Ba-bye, it is corruption of “Good bye,” which itself was the cropped form of “God be with ye.”
Mentioning the name of “God” at every opportunity and invoking his blessing for everyone I greet facilitates my own conversion. For my invocation to be credible, I need to be more mindful that my own state of righteousness is not contrary to God’s way. I fear the harsh judgment of man and God for choosing to speak the name of God unworthily, but I fear a harsher judgment for not speaking the name of God at all. VSS
Picture: Photo by Brandon Nickerson on Pexels.com