November 2022

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’ 

Matthew 5.4  (RSV) [See also:  Matthew 3.16   Acts 7.56   Acts 10.11   Revelation 4.1].


This teaching, in the Sermon on the Mount, comes after Matthew had set the scene for who Jesus is - the Messiah, the promised one.


So it’s a Dominical saying. Spoken first to disciples, then written in the last quarter of the first century to bed down ‘a new social unit, new norms, new authority’. The context the Kingdom of God, bringing earth and heaven together.


This particular saying is an echo from the book of Isaiah chapter 61. Jesus takes up the mantle to himself, ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me’. Each Beatitude has half as a community present (in this case those who mourn) and the communities future (comfort is offered).


There are 122 references to mourning in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament. Mourning comes in a variety of forms. For bereavement yes, but also abuse, failure, loneliness, disappointment. There is also the half-truth, innuendo, fear, helplessness as well as hopelessness.


Into all these situations Jesus says Blessed, offers a promise, he is what the Old Testament called the Consolation of Israel. Blessing is an antidote to spiritual bankruptcy. It’s offered to those in any kind of grief.


Our world has been coming through a very particular grief, the Pandemic. It has raised particular questions about our pleasure mad, entertainment culture. For the last two, three years we have been reminded of our eternal context. We have needed the promise of Jesus and the comfort of one another.


In this Remembrance month, ‘as poppies fall, as heads bow’, we take the divine promise of comfort, the promise of comfort ‘as day breaks’*, an eternal context.


*from the poem ‘I remember’ by the Irish poet Paul Gilmore.