Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

‘Who cried for the people who lost their lives on a boat? For the young mothers who travelled with their children? For those fathers who were seeking a better future for their families? ‘ This was the ringing challenge to the world’s conscience sounded by Pope Francis from the island of Lampedusa in July 2013. ‘We are a society that has forgotten the experience of shedding tears, of suffering, amidst the globalisation of indifference’. 

This beatitude proclaims blessed those who are able to mourn for the suffering they see and feel around them. Those who, when faced with suffering, overcome the temptation of indifference and are ready to share the pain. The violence, the injustice and the poverty we see all around us are a call to open our hearts and let this suffering touch us.

We are invited to mourn, to feel distressed at so much pain in the world. This is a real choice, for we know how easily we run away or think of something else: we know how often it feels to be too much to handle.

And Jesus wept…Jesus wept

Jesus wept when he stood outside the tomb of his friend Lazarus. He always allowed the suffering of others to touch him, sometimes even reacting without being asked, as he did when he raised the son of the widow of Nain.  

He also wept when he could foresee Jerusalem’s destruction, brought about by her refusal to accept him. We too live in a world that sounds so proud at being able to do without God. Does this situation affect us, do we mourn for our unbelieving world, or do we believe it is enough for us just to do our best?

They will be comforted

Jesus promises us that those who mourn will be comforted. When our heart mourns we will discover that while we cannot eliminate all the suffering in the world, our efforts do make a difference. This brings us real consolation, for we know we are being true to ourselves. It is Jesus’ promise that whatever we give up we will receive back a hundredfold, even in this world.

Moreover, we discover that we are not alone in this. As Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb and over his beloved Jerusalem, he is also present with us, mourning and suffering alongside those who suffer, and inspiring and supporting those who reach out to them.

SONG: ‘Jesus Wept’ by Ralph McTell – Listen to the song here (track 8)

The day that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem,
The adventure almost over, the night he hadn’t slept
Dreams and premonitions made him tired and emotional,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

He wasn’t scared of dying, he’d made that commitment
Fulfilling the old prophecy, his bargain he had kept
He was due some satisfaction, but he was deeply troubled,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

Was this his true destiny, or could he still make changes,
Someone else’s nightmare into which he’d stepped?
Damage limitation couldn’t save the situation,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

In his dream he saw the crusade and all wars that would follow,
Declared in his name when he thought he’d been direct
Love thy neighbour, do not kill, and turn the other cheek,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

He saw the inquisition and the burning of the saints,
The conversion of the innocents he swore he would protect
He saw them bless the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

Though Peter would betray him, he made him the rock
On which he would build his church to sort of keep him in his debt
A man about to die is allowed some confusion,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

He thought of his disciples, especially of Judas,
The job that was ordained for him and the reward he’d collect
He saw him in the tree with the silver coins around him,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

Then he thought about the good times when he turned the tables over,
Chastised the money lenders and he earned the boy’s respect
He was proud of Godly anger, but ashamed of manly temper,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

Rumours started flying about water into wine,
Sight to the blind and that he’d even raised the dead
The biggest miracle was that anyone believed it,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

Then he mused on human nature, how fickle were the public,
So ready to accept him, so quick now to reject
Where were the five thousand he fed with loaves and fishes?
And that’s why Jesus wept.

In his dream he saw a garden with all his friends asleep,
He walked away the hours until the morning crept
He wondered would the nails hurt, would he be man enough?
And that’s why Jesus wept.

Was he supposed to bear it like a man or like a God,
Would tears show a weakness or a strength by their effect?
Would they be viewed as compassion or failure and self-pity?
And that’s why Jesus wept.

Then he saw his houses burning on both sides of a border,
Saw the guiltless suffer with the guilty and the rest
And when they called his name and he knew he couldn’t help them,
That’s why Jesus wept.

Then he saw two armies marching and he heard their crucifixes
Reduced to superstitious muted jangling round their necks
And he heard his name intoned as they interred their companion,
And that’s why Jesus wept.

Then he thought about his mother and the stories she had told him,
Who’d filled his dreams with angels, put voices in his head
Then the scent of pine trees made him think of dear old Joseph,
And that’s why Jesus wept.
That’s why Jesus wept.