As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
It is critical in reading this beatitude to remember that Jesus was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). But His grief was not for any sins He had done, because He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Rather His grief was for a world rejecting Father God. Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives weeping for the judgment that the people were bringing upon themselves for rejecting God (Matthew 23:37-39). Jesus’ heart broke for them: “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37). He wept because of their sin.
So followers of Jesus also mourn for a godless world. They mourn for the world’s loss of love, respect for life, and justice. They follow the long Biblical tradition of mourning for the evil and the trampling down of the poor and the oppressed. Lot lived in Sodom and “was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds he saw and heard” (II Peter 2:8). Later in the Old Testament, we read of Ezra “who ate no bread and drank no water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness” of his people (Ezra 10:6).
The blessed person is one who mourns sin in his own life, but does not stop there. He also mourns for the sin he sees around him and the horror of evil in the world. He is troubled by what he sees happening in his country and what he sees happening in the church. He reads the news and mourns that people can so spend their lives. He mourns that God’s kingdom has not yet fully come, and God’s will is not yet fully done (Matthew 6:10).
In this beatitude Jesus congratulates “those who enter into solidarity with the pain of the world and do not try to extract themselves from it” (Richard Rohr and Bookser Feister, Jesus’ Plan for a New World). The blessed person mourns with Father God that His will is not yet completed on earth.
PONDER AND PRAY
“My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not kept.”—Psalm 119:36
- Are you ever like Lot in the Old Testament, who was “tormented” by the evil he saw around him? Explain.
- What evil is there in the larger, or more immediate community, that causes you to mourn? What do you want to say to God about it?
- Are you willing to pray today, “Father, break my heart by what breaks your heart”?