Is it safe to cry? Are you comfortable being sad? What about mourning? Showing grief? For many, many people in this society here, mourning and grief is something to be hidden away, even to be embarrassed about. Do you feel free to mourn? Or, is this raw emotion one to be hidden, not allowed out in public except at funerals?
Our nation was horrified to hear that after a relief of Covid-19 deaths as it seems 5o fade away slowly there are many cases of youth deaths in tarverns e.g Enyobeni,Soweto,Katlehong.
21 dead at Enyobeni
4 dead in Maritzburg
15 dead in Soweto
2 dead in Katlehong
All in Tarvern in a space of two weeks
So many mourning and grieving! This is yet another tragedy in yet close space of two weeks.
Let us look again at our Scripture reading for today. For these past weeks, in fact. Our Lord Jesus gives us the Beatitudes from a mountain in the north of Galilee to the largest of His crowds to date, near the beginning of His public ministry.
We have discussed how our Lord Jesus already had a budding reputation as a miracle worker, healing dozens and dozens of individuals from their physical diseases and afflictions. Jesus not only displayed power in casting out demons, but was gaining a reputation as a brilliant teacher. He was also quite able at dialoging with the Jewish legal scholars and other rabbis.
It’s all very nice to think about this historical person, the Rabbi Jesus, and about a historical event that happened 2000 years ago, the Sermon on the Mount. But, what does this have to do with the shooting that happened so near to us just a week ago? How do you and I wrap our heads around such evil and horror and go forward without trauma and pain and continuing sadness? Can you remember a time you cried? Did you cry on Monday, hearing about this extreme tragedy that happened only a few suburbs to the north? Yet, our Lord Jesus states Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
What a time of tragedy! And, what a time of mourning! Lord Jesus, do you hear countless people crying? Grieving? Mourning? Not only for those shot, wounded or murdered but the Covid-19 fatalities as well.
In the first century just as today, many people were taught that crying was shameful, that grown-ups didn’t cry, that mourning and grieving showed weakness and made people too vulnerable. Do you know people who try their darnedest not to show emotion, and not to cry or mourn? Oftentimes, these are rich and powerful people who gather money and control. That way, they do their best to feel strong, unshakeable, in control of people and events
And, what does our Lord Jesus do right at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount? He speaks to people who mourn and cry and grieve, and praises them! Jesus highlights them in all their grief. One large reason Jesus does this is because God gave all humans emotions. Mourning, grief and crying show we all are alive and aware. Instead of being ashamed of crying, crying shows we are brave. Crying shows we are willing to feel pain—our own and someone else’s pain. You [and I] are not trying to block the pain around us or keep our distance from it. Tears and crying are important.
Instead of being superficial and seeking only pleasure and surface entertainment, Jesus lets us know that God honors us when we mourn. God embraces us wholeheartedly when any of us grieve. You and I do not need to block pain or pretend nothing has happened, show a stiff upper lip or keep our distance from crying, because supposedly grown-ups don’t cry. No, tears and crying are important. When a loved one cries or grieves, it is a privilege to come alongside and to mourn with them. To sit with them as they cry, especially in times of pain or difficulty. Especially when it is so hard to hold that grief, so difficult that it almost makes a person fall to pieces.
This blessing of Jesus, blessing those who mourn for they shall be comforted, shows that we connect with God. This Beatitude shows that God actively comes alongside those who are actively mourning and comforts them.
Perhaps God comforts those dear grieving ones through others. Perhaps God sends relatives, or friends, or strangers to come alongside of those who are deeply mourning, and sits with them in silence, or gets them a cup of water or coffee, or brings over a casserole or does a load of laundry. Whatever we do, whatever it takes to show God’s presence and our caring, Most important, this is a way to show we share in God’s heart, in God’s caring and love.
Jesus promised God would bring comfort and make things right for all the people listening who faced injustice, shame, trauma and poverty which caused them to cry and grieve. One way God brings comfort is through us. (Hold your hands out with palms up.) When we offer our hand or loving words—especially to someone who is sad—we are God’s comfort to that person.
What a blessing to others! And, what a blessing when each of us mourn. And to that, we can all say alleluia, amen.