No body likes a sad sack! While we wish to be sympathetic, those who wear their complaints like an arm band face an ever dwindling audience. And though Christ proclaimed blessed those who mourn, nowhere did He leave instructions for us to decorate the walls of our churches with wall flowers dripping with tears. Christ did not bless crybabies; on the contrary, He expected His followers to take it on the chin bravely for His sake. This Beatitude is at once a challenge to face the problem of evil and an answer to it. The evil introduced into God's creation by man's sin causes suffering for all men, and Christ, though guiltless, took it upon Himself for our redemption. He invites those who would be His disciples to follow Him carrying the cross (Mt. 10:38).

Christians are called in a special way by God's love. But it is what we call today "tough love". Already in the book of Proverbs it was said that "whom the Lord loves He chastises" (3:12). And St. John reminds us of this fact in his Apocalypse when he has the Angel of the Church of Laodicea speak in God's name complaining of the lukewarmness of the faithful there. He tells them: "Those whom I love I reprove and chasten" (3:19). In this context this Beatitude means that we are blest through suffering and affliction, for by means of them God brings us to a more fervent practice of His love. Doesn't human experience already teach us that we learn to love and grow by suffering?

"Mourning" for the Christian in love with the Lord Jesus takes on the positive value of preparing oneself for the resurrection. St. Paul is willing  to "count everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I suffer the loss of all things, and count them as dung, in order that I may gain Christ as my wealth. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and know how to share in His sufferings. Only thus can I hope to arrive at the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:8-11) St. Peter also acknowledges the positive worth of Christian suffering when he urges us to "Rejoice in so far as you share in Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice when His glory is revealed" (Pt. 4:13).

When we courageously accept the cross of suffering and unite it explicitly to Christ crucified, our pains and sorrows, not only atone for our own sins, but take on a redemptive value for the rest of mankind. This is what St. Paul meant by claiming that in "My own flesh I make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body the Church" (Col. 1:24). By joining our afflictions to Christ on the cross we extend His merciful salvation to others by helping them atone for their sins, making up for their lack of love, and win for them the grace of conversion. Why, we willingly suffer for and with those we love. How often we hear a mother exclaim, "Oh, I would gladly take upon myself my child's disease in order to relieve him!"

It is just this kind of love for Christ and for the souls He loves and for whom He suffered that gives us the blessed grace of "mourning" with Him, urged on by St. Paul's faith filled hope that "the sufferings of this life are not to be compared with the glory of the next" (Rom. 8:18).

Source: Father John H. Miller