“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:4). With this beatitude Jesus gives us the promise that tears can count for something. But what do they count for? We might think that those who mourn will be blessed only after death. True, but that is not all that the beatitude offers. The Lord declares that those who mourn are blessed now.
Consider these examples: Monica’s tears over the misdeeds of her son Augustine. A person’s sadness over a friend who has left the faith. The sorrow of those who see the widespread destruction of innocent infant life in our country.
How are these mourners blessed in the very act of their mourning? Pope Benedict XVI writes in Jesus of Nazareth, “The mourning of which the Lord speaks is nonconformity with evil.” All these people suffer because they do not condone an evil event or state of affairs. They endure it because they must, but they do not say evil is okay: “Even though it is not in their power to change the overall situation, they still counter the dominion of evil through the passive resistance of their suffering—through the mourning that sets bounds to the power of evil.”
Living by this beatitude thus involves mourning things that many others view as of minimal importance. St. Dominic, for example, would shed tears as he asked God, “What will become of sinners?” And like St. Dominic, by mourning the evils in our lives and in the world, we “set bounds to the power of evil.” We participate in Jesus’s own redemptive sorrow over the sins of the world.
Image: James Tissot, Jesus Wept.