Face to face with a young widow grieving over the dead body of her husband, who had been killed violently, could you tell her, “Blessed are you who mourn?” Or, if somebody comes to you with this story, “Father, people are gossiping about me, and I feel so persecuted and misunderstood. I do not know why they are doing this to me.” Would you be able to say to her, “Blessed are you who are persecuted?” If you see a child dying of hunger and sickness on the street, do you whisper to the child’s ear, “Blessed are you who are hungry?” To say those things on those occasions would be ridiculous. It would be a terribly inconsiderate act. And yet, when Jesus uttered those words on the mountain, the people there received great consolation. When Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are hungry; blessed are you who are persecuted; blessed are you who are mourning,” people received a tremendous blessing, and they felt a warmth within, and they felt that they were no longer alone.
What is the difference between the two circumstances? When we say blessed are the poor, people are insulted. But when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor,” people are consoled. When we say, “Blessed are you who mourn,” people will say we are thoughtless and insensitive. But when Jesus says, “Blessed are you who mourn,” people are comforted. When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted,” people find meaning in life. But when we say, “Blessed are you who are persecuted,” they think we are taunting them.
Why? Because when we say, “Blessed are the hungry,” those who hear us know that we are not hungry. When we say, “Blessed are those who mourn,” those who listen to us know that we do not know how it is to really mourn. When we say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted,” they do not believe us because they think and know that we are more of persecutors than the persecuted. There lies the difference.
Before Jesus said those words, He first went through the experience. And that is why He is credible. It is possible to preach to an empty stomach if the stomach of the preacher is as empty as that of his parishioners. It is possible to bless the broken-hearted if those who do so have gone through the same hurt. The difference is, are we willing to go through what the people who suffer have gone through? If you are not willing to go through what they have gone through, then you will have no credibility in your words. And you should stop saying those beatitudes.
It is only by allowing the cross to run through our lives and by suffering patiently and lovingly that we can truly bless ourselves and bless others.
GRACE IN SUFFERING
Looking For Jesus