In the Gospel of Matthew we have the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus speaks of the beatitudes. Among them, the beatitude, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’, sometimes makes us feel that it is contradictory in itself. Other beatitudes like Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God’ etc. are easy to be accepted and comprehended. But how is it possible to say that those who mourn are blessed? Usually someone mourns or cries only when he or she is full of grief or faced with something quite unexpected and painful. Then, what does Jesus really mean?
When we go through the gospel, there are a lot of people whom we see crying their heart out before the Lord. The tax collector, who striking his breast cried out, have mercy on me a sinner’ (Lk: 8: 13), The sinful woman, who stood before the lord crying and expecting the judgement (Jn: 8:1-11), The Centurion who acknowledged before the Lord, ‘I am not worthy to have you under my roof’ (Mt: 8: 8), Zacchaeus cried his heart out repenting of his sinful deeds of the past saying ‘if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount’ (Lk: 19: 8), Bartimaeus who cried out ‘Jesus, son of David have mercy on me a sinner’ (Mk: 10: 47), The prodigal son who cried out for forgiveness admitting he has done wrong ( Lk: 15: 11-32)…. Thus goes the line.
What was the meaning of those cries? It was nothing but the fact that they could understand their situation and could confess it aloud. It was this awareness that helped them to cry their heart out before the Lord. Thus, they became blessed, for they were comforted by the Lord. The sinful woman was forgiven, the tax collector was justified, Bartimaeus, the blind received sight, Zacchaeus’ family received the salvation, the centurion’s servant was healed and the prodigal son was accepted by the loving father. Thus all were led from sorrow to joy.
So in one way or other, mourning becomes inevitable in everyone’s life for it leads to God experience. That is why the Scripture says it carries blessing. But the blessing does not lie in the experience of mourning itself, rather, in the consequence that arises from it. The blessing that comes with mourning is the blessing of being comforted by the Lord. So whenever there is a time for us to mourn, never be discouraged, but realize that God wants to comfort us. May all of us be comforted by our Lord.
Fr. Shijo Amenanickal CST