“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

To a cynic, that piece of wisdom from Jesus may seem like a bit of religious tripe: salesmanship or trickery. To me, more and more as I struggle through this life, and especially now that we have said goodbye to yet another beloved child from this parish, I am struck with its beautiful truth.

At its most basic (and also its highest?) level, the beatitude means we are blessed to realize that this world contains suffering and evil, and that the next one erases them completely – that there will indeed be comfort in our future.

On another level, Jesus tells us we are blessed when we acknowledge our own weaknesses and faults before God, when we feel sorrow for our own sins.  Only then are we receptive to His boundless mercy, grace, and compassion.  That’s comfort, indeed, and I don’t know about you, but I’m always in need of it.

On yet another level, we who grieve for the dead are BLESSED.  A loved one’s death causes deep wounds of separation.  These wounds are so profound, they cannot be easily ignored.  Their pain must cause us to consider the deceased’s life here on earth and his/her afterlife.  Those who witness the incredible difference between an animated body and a lifeless one recognize the stunning absence of a soul.  Where is it?  Can it have been extinguished?  But don’t we still feel its palpable presence?  And – What impact did this person have here on earth?  What impact have I had? The answers to these questions help us to solidify our faith and propel us to act.  We are thus blessed.

Let’s consider also, that those who mourn must actively choose to do so.  Because of the nature of this fallen world, opportunity for mourning will surely come to those who have loving relationships. (And to those who love only themselves, mourning remains a distant myth – Blessed are those who mourn!) When the opportunity arises, we can refuse to mourn by hiding behind stoicism, bad habits, grudges, addictions, or long-term denial.  If you and I choose to mourn, though, we candidly admit our love for our fellow creatures and recognize our deep desire to be united with them again in God’s embrace.  To not be able to do that would be a tragedy.  To be able to mourn is, for real, a blessing.