When Jesus proclaims blessed the afflicted, blessed are those who mourn, he refers to that condition of earthly life that nobody misses. There are those who are afflicted because they have no health, some are afflicted because they are poor, there are those who are afflicted because they are alone, there are those who are afflicted because they are misunderstood or because they are overloaded with work, or because they are not seconded in its aspirations and its abilities.
The reasons for suffering are manifold. Earthly life is marked by pain. But this can be lived in so many ways. Or with the passive attitude of those who let themselves go to an inert resignation, or with a stoicism that hardens the heart. Today there is a whole philosophy which is the supreme principle of living the escape from all affliction and the search for enjoyment.
The afflicted Jesus speaks of are those who, without doing neither the enjoyment nor the suffering of the first principle of existence, accept the reality of life with trust and hope, knowing that through this providential journey they go towards the Kingdom of God.
And this is the unmistakable sign of the salvation promised by God to his people and announced by the prophets: the Messiah bends over all human miseries to save them, to give relief and joy to the afflicted, to console those who cry. However the afflicted, as for the poor, will never fail in the world. The miraculous healings performed by the Lord, the blind recover their sight, lame walk, lepers are cleansed, deaf hear (Luke 7:22), they are the symbol of a deeper and more essential salvation.
The work of Jesus does not stop at the bodies, but goes deeper: it touches hearts and heals them from the greatest evil … sin. Physical and moral afflictions, diseases, mourning, oppressions, the worries of life become the vehicle through which the work of salvation reaches man more easily.
Woe to you who now laugh, for you will be afflicted and weep, said Jesus (Luke 6:24). Who lives in enjoyment, who has everything he wants and lacks nothing, runs a tremendous risk. Satisfied with himself and his earthly life, he does not feel the precariousness of his situation, he does not feel the need to be saved, he does not open his heart to the hope of heavenly things. On the contrary, the afflicted, powerless to free themselves from his tribulations, realizes that God alone can help him, only from him can he be saved for time and for eternity.
The afflicted who, like the poor, accept their fate from the hands of God, who submit to him with humility, and while suffering do not cease to believe in his love of the Father and in his infinite Providence, are proclaimed blessed by Jesus … because they will be comforted (Matthew 5: 4). And if full consolation will only be in eternal life, here on earth, in the midst of their distresses, they will not be deprived of the comfort of feeling closer to Christ who brings with them and for them the cross.
When physical or moral evils torment man and seem to nail him to irremediable situations, it is not easy to believe in the bliss proclaimed by the Lord. Yet pain always hides a mystery of life and salvation. He needs to wait and hope for his own consolation only from God. We have to wait for him, the only one who saves and changes tears into true joy. It is necessary to have the courage to embrace the cross not only with resignation, but with love, with a determined will to follow the suffering Jesus up to Calvary, up to the Sepulcher, because only from death can the resurrection flourish.
Then we understand why Saint Paul was able to say … I am filled with consolation, filled with joy despite all our tribulations (2 Corinthians 7: 4). It is the beatitude of suffering that begins to come true here for those who know how to suffer with Christ for the salvation of the world. It is an objective consolation that transfigures human life through the advent of the Kingdom and redemption. Therefore the beatitude of affliction has messianic value: the Lord announces that he will come. And try to make people understand the meaning of his coming into this world.
But for those who love God there are other reasons for crying. There are the tears of the penitent Magdalene and of Peter who weeps for denial. There are the tears of those who sincerely love God, must reproach themselves every day for some weakness, some infidelity; holy tears of compunction, gift of the Holy Spirit. And still tears for all the evil that spreads throughout the world, makes so many victims, overwhelms so many innocents, makes us deviate from the faith, torments the Church, offends God.
In very concrete terms, this beatitude of the Lord must be translated like this: you who have been troubled so far, welcome me who I am sent to be your comforter. Jesus announcing the beatitudes announces himself. He announces that he is the consolation of the afflicted, which quenches the thirsty, who feeds the hungry, which restores justice, which makes men immaculate because he is the Comforter.
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