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The Second Beatitude: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

April 2, AD2017 1 Comment

despair, sadness, mourn, frustration

 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

What do the words of this beatitude mean?

We want happiness, so we would say, blessed are those who rejoice. But all of us suffer, some almost constantly.

There are countless ways to suffer here on earth and many degrees of suffering. Our suffering can be physical or mental. We can suffer by not having what we want or need or by having good things taken away. We can also suffer because we have done wrong. Additionally there’s the prospect of death. Human suffering is unique because we can brood upon it as past, present, or future.

Comfort in suffering need not mean deleting the suffering and replacing it with happiness. It can mean alleviating the suffering in some way, so it can be borne better.

If Christ’s words are true and those who mourn are blessed, than the comfort the mourner will receive must be far greater than the pains borne.

How is this beatitude seen in the life of Christ?

This beatitude, like the others, is a portrait of Our Lord.

At the end of Jesus’ forty-day voluntary fast in the desert, angels did comfort him.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, after Christ asked his Father to allow the cup of suffering to pass him by—if possible—an angel strengthened him (Lk 22:43).

Christ embraced suffering, agony, and finally death on the cross. He was the suffering servant Isaiah prophesied (Is 53 ff.). Christ’s suffering was infinitely valuable and has saved and sanctified us. In His human nature, Christ’s ultimate comfort is His victory and His glorified body.

Christ promises to be the comforter of all who turn to Him:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mt 11:28-30)

How can we live this beatitude?

As disciples of Christ, how can we deal with suffering?

Each of us shares in the universal priesthood of Christ. Priests offer sacrifices. When we suffer in any way, we can offer that suffering up to God. We can also offer up the sufferings of others.

When we make a sacrifice of suffering, we immediately receive a share of Christ’s peace and love. Rather than leading to bitterness, this priestly suffering opens our hearts to forgiving, understanding, and feeling compassion for others. Give it a try.

These positive values, which can be discovered by suffering, are another dimension of the comfort with which Christ endows mourning. They are also another example of how God only permits evil because He can draw a good out of it.

Those who know how to suffer do not blame God or try to hurt those around them. Nor do they try to compensate themselves by engaging in acts of gluttony or lust.

How should this beatitude apply to how I treat others?

What about others?

The blessings which God gives to sorrow do not mean we should rejoice in the sufferings of others or tell them they are lucky!

Instead, Christ’s disciples should take Our Lord’s place. We should provide the comforting look and word and touch of Christ for them.

Thus, another beatitude is,

Blessed are those who comfort the mourners.

In fact this is a spiritual work of mercy.

The USCCB website offers this practical advice for comforting the sorrowful:

> Be open to listening and comforting those who are dealing with grief.  Even if we aren’t sure of the right words to say, our presence can make a big difference.

> Lend a listening ear to those going through a tough time.

> Make a home cooked meal for a friend who is facing a difficult time.

> Write a letter or send a card to someone who is suffering.

A few moments of your day may make a lifetime of difference to someone who is going through a difficult time.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Kevin and his wife have seven children. He has a MA in English literature from San Francisco State University and a MA in Theology with an emphasis on Sacred Scripture from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He teaches English and theology in a Catholic high school in Central Illinois. He has an extensive background in teaching, school administration, character education, and curriculum development. He also writes screenplays, TV pilots, novels, and non-fiction books and articles. His weekly homiletic lectionary-based blog is Doctrinal Homily Outlines.

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