What It Means To Mourn

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What does it mean to mourn in the sense that Jesus is talking about here? If we have lived long enough we know that mourning is an inevitable part of this life. None of us escapes it. But is there a particular kind of mourning that Jesus is referring to here?

We may “mourn” for all kinds of reasons. The fact is that some of our “mourning” is done for selfish, self-centered reasons. This, of course, is not the kind of mourning Jesus is referring to here. What kind of mourning is Jesus promising will be comforted? What kind of mourning will eventuate in our happiness? This seems to be a paradoxical statement at first glance, but there is something very deep here, something very revealing.

The mourning that Jesus is talking about here is that which overwhelms us when we suddenly recognize in the depths of our souls that we have sinned and done damage to those we love, or to ourselves. It is a realization that we have fallen from the grace of relationship with our family, our friends, our neighbors. Even more importantly, it is that sorrow that sweeps into us when we realize that we have foolishly turned away from our relationship with God. Some may try to run from the pain of this natural sorrow by trying to hide from it. Some may try to bury the agonizing grief of these feelings with pleasures and amusements of every kind. The trouble is that one can not run away from one’s conscience. It is like our shadow. It is always there. Besides, in the natural order of things, eventually the consequences of our sinful actions catch up to us, whether we want them to, or not. But Jesus is counseling us here. He is getting us to do some serious self-reflection. This is a heavenly wisdom we are being challenged with. It is immeasurably different from the wisdom of humanity. Jesus is saying that to mourn our sins, and their consequences, is the beginning of the recovery of our happiness.

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If our mourning rises out of despair, it is not the kind of mourning that will bring us comfort. Jesus is saying that the kind of mourning that will be comforted will be the mourning that is done out of a deep and abiding faith in God’s mercy and forgiveness. We are to mourn in the faith that God’s love is greater and more powerful than our sins. We are to mourn over the injuries that we have caused to our love for our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, and ourselves. When we mourn out of our deep desire to turn back toward the God’s love, He sees the genuine sorrow of our tears and he will turn them into a healing balm. The mourning that we do out of true repentance for our sins will be answered by the infinite, loving forgiveness of God. It is His forgiveness for our sins that will become our comfort, indeed, our joy! It is this mourning that will be comforted, that will be our blessing. Thanks be to God alone.

Lord, during this Lenten season, help us to reflect on those habits and behaviors that arise from our selfishness and our lack of self-discipline. Give us the grace to mourn in the manner you have shown us here in your Sermon on the Mount. It is our deepest desire to return to you and your ways, for we know in faith that you alone are the beginning and the end of our happiness. We pray these prayers in your holy name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.