Matthew 5:1-12a | All Saints, Year A
Holy Grief: Love Turned Inside Out
A friend of mine’s mother died yesterday. He posted about her, “The sadness is just an immense amount of love turned inside out.” Shortly after, I opened the Bible and found this week’s gospel reading to be the Beatitudes. Both my friend’s tribute and the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount are rooted in the same concept. Supreme blessedness (the definition of the word beatitude) must co-exist with pain, or the profane is only masquerading as profound. The nature of God’s upside down kingdom is that nothing is as we think it should be.
Does Jesus really want us to be “poor,” to “mourn,” to be “meek” (v.3-5), to merely roll over to our enemies? No, not as humans define these terms. But He knows that we cannot be truly be rich without being “poor”; we can only truly “mourn” when we have experienced great joy; and to truly “meek” takes great strength of character. Jesus also knows that the only way we can have these experiences as God intended is to let go of our need for self importance and recognize the depth of our true need, which is we have to turn over our very being to the Creator.
Ironically, when we truly recognize this need, we become empowered, not through our own strength, but through His. If we are “poor in spirit” and acutely aware of our own limitations, then we actually are able to love our neighbor as ourselves—we can see ourselves in them. If we “mourn” the limitations of our human condition, we see the boundaries that only God can reach beyond. If we are “meek” and practice self-control in our responses to the world, we take time, and in that pause, we give God the opportunity to do His work, through us or through others.
Jesus knew none of this is easy, and He knew all of it runs contrary to our human impulses. But Jesus also knew that it is only when we “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (v. 6), that we would actually go looking for God, go knock on His door (Matthew 7:8). He is always there with an answer, but our hearts have to be in the right place to fully receive the response, to “be satisfied” (v.6) with His answer.
Life forced my friend to the door this week. He is mourning the loss of his mother with a grief I cannot comprehend. But in that grief, he sees a love so encompassing that it transcends earthly bounds. I believe he has been graced with the true meaning of the supreme blessedness of the Beatitudes.