“A wonderful word”

On Sunday Father Henkes is beatified in Limburg. But what does blessed actually mean and where does the word occur in the Bible? Questions for Thomas Soding, professor of the New Testament at the Ruhr University in Bochum.

Interviewer: If I am blessed, then I am overjoyed, right?

Thomas Soding (professor for the New Testament at the Ruhr University in Bochum): Yes! Bliss is a wonderful word. Bliss has something to do with happiness, but not only with earthly happiness, but with heavenly happiness. He who is overjoyed is blessed. This is a language that goes back to Jesus and that gives enormous hope for the future and for the present.

Interviewer: In the Bible there are beatitudes in which Jesus says: "Blessed are you" or "Blessed are they". What role do these beatitudes play?

Soding: They are fundamental. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus looks at the people who are in a particularly bad way and who perhaps suspect themselves or have been suspected by others of being forgotten by God. And Jesus turns it around exactly and says: "No. God looks at these people and that is why they are allowed to look into the future. The connection between heaven and earth is established. And to whom it may concern, blessed is he."

Interviewer: Paul addresses his parishioners as "saints" and "sanctified". How is that meant?

Soding: This is not unique to the apostle Paul, but it is very typical of the apostle Paul. Holiness always means: "You belong to God. You belong to God."And the question is, where are the ground stations of God, so to speak?. And the conclusion of the apostle Paul is: where faith is at home. Therefore, this word holiness in Paul is not suitable for making distinctions between different believers, but to emphasize the believers themselves and to say to them: "You are, so to speak, the outpost of God in the world."

Interviewer: In contrast to saints, the beatified are only venerated regionally. How is it in the Bible, how are the terms blessed and holy distinguished from each other??

Soding: This differentiation between beatification as regional and canonization as universal, is an inherent property of the Catholic Church. This differentiation cannot be traced back to the New Testament. In the New Testament they are simply different language games.

Holiness, that always has a lot to do with the cult, the priestly plays a role there. Priestly not in the sense of official priesthood, but in the sense of being a member of the people of God. Blessed comes very strongly from the wisdom of Israel, from the prophecy of Israel. These are simply different spiritual, theological sources, with which it can be said on one side or the other: "You are people who make the face of God shine."

The interview was conducted by Tobias Fricke.

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