Mountain Top Living ~ Part 4: Blessed are those who Mourn
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
We can hardly imagine the horrific scene of Jesus on the cross. Beaten and scourged within an inch of His life and suspended by nails before the holy city of Jerusalem. He struggled for every breath in the race against asphyxia and blood loss. His nerves radiated with pangs and paroxysms. His soul shadowed in the darkness of evil and injustice. The Apostle John recollects, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother” (Jn. 19:25). Mary witnessed the excruciating death of her own son. Her own soul pierced through by the sword of sorrow and grief (Lk. 2: 35.)
The word “mourn” (πενθέω) connotes severe grief as with the loss of a loved one or family member. It is the kind of sorrow that cannot be shrouded or hidden but overwhelms like the unrelenting waves of the sea. It is the anguish of the heart and soul which brings uncontrollable tears. Tragedy and suffering will find all of us in due time as with our Savior. Jesus mourned for His friend Lazarus (Jn. 11:35). Jesus wept for Jerusalem because of the catastrophic estrangement from Yahweh (Matt. 23:37-39).
The capacity for grief reveals the courage to see the suffering within ourselves and others. It is so much easier to look away than to emotionally invest. The good Samaritan “saw” the wounded man and “had compassion on him” (Lk. 10:33), whereas the other more prestigious men saw but “passed by the other side.” They lacked the ability to really see the person and feel another’s pain. Jesus blesses those able to empathize with others and act accordingly.
The blessing of grief is also indicative of one’s ability to love. Our grief is a mirror to the heart. It is with those we love the most, that we feel the greatest bereavement. Jesus wept so much for Lazarus that the people remarked, “See how he loved him!” We can hardly contend that the greatest of virtues, eternal love- is not worth inevitable finite losses. Anyone, who has ever loved knows its immense value. As the poet Tennyson says, “tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
Also, the “Franciscan Blessing” urges, “May God bless you with tears, to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.” It is when we have the spiritual capacity to mourn that we can love in the deepest sense and find the greatest comfort. The promise of God’s intimacy is even through our darkest moments of despair. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:18).
Mary endured the crushing heartbreak that no mother should endure. She found, however, interminable comfort. Mary was gathered with the disciples 50 days later, on the day of Pentecost, as directed by her risen Son in Jerusalem. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts. 2:14).
Mary’s mourning gave light to the greatest joy ever known. (Rev. 21: 4) “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”