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Comfort and joy

This is the third in a nine-part series on the Beatitudes and their relevance in a 21st-century world.

From the May 2005 issue of The Christian Science Journal

I'd never thought of grief as being particularly blessed—that is, worthy of worship or veneration. I'd thought of it as something people needed to deal with, to get over. And so I'd always wondered about the second beatitude: "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." Matt. 5:4. I loved the idea of comfort, but I didn't understand why mourning had been included in a list of blesseds. A list that also spoke of meekness, righteousness, and purity—qualities I actually hoped to cultivate.

My Sunday School teachers over the years shed some light on the subject by encouraging me to think about that first word, blessed, in relation to another translation of the original Greek. That word, makarios, is also rendered happy. And "Happy are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" certainly made more sense. But the fact that Jesus included this promise in his Sermon on the Mount seemed to indicate a purpose beyond just a statement of the obvious.

One day it occurred to me that what I took as a given—that mourning wasn't a "you're stuck here forever" state of mind—wasn't necessarily a given for everyone. Likewise, although I was quite certain of the source of that comfort, others might wonder, "Comforted by whom, or by what?"

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