First Family News – 2020 July – Mourning with Comfort
Rev. Sam B. Kim
Like a dark cloud, the global pandemic has been hanging over every area of life, bringing loss and mourning.
Hundreds of thousands of families across the world have mourned the loss of a loved one. A record number of Americans are mourning the loss of employment. From toddlers to aging seniors, not a soul has been spared from mourning the loss of everyday routines to much-anticipated plans for the future.
More recently, black communities, joined by a rising tide of solidarity, have been publically mourning the loss of young daughters and sons, like George Floyd, while crying out against racial injustice and inequity.
For the last three months, it has felt like an ominous cloud has been brooding over us.
In light of all the mourning, I am reminded of Jesus’s words from the beatitudes: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). This statement sounds like an oxymoron. How are those who mourn, blessed? In what ways will they find comfort?
I appreciate one writer’s interpretation of Jesus’s teaching: “the beatitudes are not for the blessed; they are for the oppressed” (Inés Velasquez-McBryde).
Jesus’s words are meant for the women and men being pushed down and exploited by governing authorities and local religious leaders. He had in mind the poor and the marginalized that lived on the opposite end of importance from the ruling rich. For the widow, the Gentile, and all who walked in the shadows of social hierarchy, Jesus’s words covered them like a warm blanket.
In their mourning, Jesus points to a present and future hope. Jesus would hang from the cross as darkness came over the whole land. The Messenger of the beatitudes would become the Redeemer of darkness and sin. In this we too find comfort and hope in our mourning.
I am man of different “color” than most of you. Yet I am not African-American and cannot speak for my African-American siblings. But I can mourn with my siblings who mourn.
As followers of the Messenger who blesses the oppressed, we are called to mourn together. We can lament our losses together. We can respond to our call as comforters.
May we listen, lament and mourn as this cloud passes and God’s light shines through once again.