I was very young when I attended my first funeral – at least a funeral that I remember. It was for my mother’s aunt and another relative. They died in an auto accident. I have a mental image of the funeral service, though I don’t remember much else. Another funeral I attended at an early age was for my great grandmother. I knew her a bit better. We used to go to the house she shared with my great aunts for dinner on Sundays.
If we want to understand the second Beatitude found in Matthew 5:4, we should start by thinking of funerals. The passage reads, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Mourning is the outer expression of grief. Different cultures mourn in different ways. Even in our culture, mourning has changed over time. Today, we wear dark clothes, attend visitations and funerals, and ride in procession to the cemetery. We cry and wipe our tears. In New Orleans, the procession is sometimes a band playing jazz with the mourners walking in the street. In Jesus’ day, people also made a lot of noise. They sometimes hired professionals to wail loudly.
Is this promise of comfort made to all who mourn? Or is it only for certain mourners or mourning about certain things? We’ll explore these questions this week on the podcast. But it starts with understanding mourning as the outward expression of grief.
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.