“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
This beatitude always perplexed me. If you’re sad about something you would expect to be comforted but why are those who mourn blessed? The most interesting thing in this beatitude is the tense in which the word “mourn” is used; it is present tense. This present tense indicates that the mourning is continual, which seems even more confusing. God wants us to be continually sad? In my life, I have had times of sorrow and mourning, but also many times of happiness and joy. Does this mean that I am not blessed in these happier times? Upon further exploring, it seems that the use of mourn here does not exactly reflect the experience of being sad about earthly things such as the loss of a job, death, injury, disease, etc. Second Corinthians states: “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you…” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). This quote helps us to understand that what is meant by mourn is the mourning of our sin and fallen nature, realizing that we need constant repentance for our salvation. Yet, instead of sorrow, this mourning is supposed to bring us joy and gladness in the hope of the resurrection and the promise of life in heaven.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa states when speaking about this beatitude, “the underlying sense seems to be that the soul should turn to the true good and not immerse itself in the deceits of this present life.” Basically, those who are concerned and mourning for the earthly and material things will never find the truth that those who are mourning the falseness of this life are seeking to find. For St. Gregory states: “Then it will no longer be difficult to see the meaning of the passage, why those who mourn now are blessed, because they shall be comforted in the word without end.” This beatitude reminds us that what we know on this earth is not the true goodness that is meant for us in our next life. Knowing this, we should mourn our current condition and continue seeking the goodness that is the truth of our Lord, and in doing this, we shall be blessed.
Maria Diveris McMullen is the Media Coordinator for the GOA Center for Family Care.
*This article was originially written for the CrossRoad Alumni magazine*