November 1998

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” This sentence, as you probably recall, is from the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus revolutionized our human way of thinking by calling “blessed” and “happy” those who, at first glance, could seem anything but happy: the poor, the persecuted, the meek, those who spend their lives bringing peace to others….
With this particular statement, he even seems to be affirming the absurd: declaring “happy” those who are in tears, “blessed” those who are afflicted with suffering. How can such an affirmation be justified?

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

The Messiah came to fulfill the words of Isaiah who had prophesied that a time would come when all who suffer would be consoled and all who mourn would be comforted (cf. Is. 61:1-3).
He knows that those who suffer are really fortunate and blessed because they are more disposed to welcome his words and, therefore, to enter his kingdom. He knows that through him the world’s many afflictions can be transformed into a life of joy.
In speaking of those who “mourn,” Jesus intends not a particular category of people, but all who suffer – regardless of age, sex, race or nationality – for whatever reason: a misfortune, a natural disaster, an illness, the death of a loved one, or the loss of possessions or reputation. He is also referring to the pain of those who are disillusioned, and of those whose unspoken suffering is deep within their hearts. He is speaking of these, and of you too, if you are suffering at this moment.

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

“They shall be comforted.” By using the future tense, Jesus is certainly referring to the times to come when God himself will reward all those who have borne their suffering well, and “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more” (Rev. 21:4). Knowing that all this will come about when Christ’s kingdom is established, fills our hearts with hope, and hope mitigates suffering.
However, Jesus is not merely trying to lead those who are unhappy to resign themselves to their condition with the promise of a future reward. He is thinking of the present as well.

His kingdom, in fact, is already here, even though it is not yet in its final form. It is present in Jesus himself, who, after undergoing a death accompanied by great suffering and sorrow, arose and thus conquered death.
As Christians we also have the kingdom present in our hearts, because God lives within us. The Trinity itself dwells in our hearts. And so the blessed happiness Jesus proclaims can already be ours.

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

In the kingdom brought by Jesus we can experience this consolation every day. Of course, there is a prerequisite: that we live as citizens of this kingdom, conforming our lives to its laws and to what Jesus asks of us.

He has said that we must accept the sufferings that come upon us, in the same way that he accepted his own.
He wants you to “take up” your cross; he does not want you to hate it, to reject it, to push it away, or to simply drag it along. You must love it! Jesus wants you to set it squarely on your shoulders. And even more – he wants you to brandish it like a torch, like a banner.
Then you will experience the miracle of the kingdom; God will make your cross seem lighter, and you will be able to carry it. You will even be able to smile amidst the tears. You will have a strength that is not yours, a strength that comes from him. And you will understand why he says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:30).
The sufferings may remain, but we will experience a new vigor that will help us to bear the trials of life and that will enable us to help others who are suffering to overcome their pain and to view their suffering as Jesus viewed and accepted his: as a means of redemption.

Chiara Lubich

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