Blessed Are They Who Mourn, for They Will Be Comforted

February 23, 2021

For Lent this year, we have asked eight sisters and associates to reflect on the Beatitudes and offer ways in which we may embrace these blessings in our own Lenten journeys. There will be additional reflections published for Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Easter.

By Sister Diane Swanson

Inevitably, we all feel the pain of loss. Disease, old age, death. Anger, hurt, betrayal. Separation, the unfamiliar. We become frightened, anxious. 

I think of Luke 2:41–51: “Each year, Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover, and when Jesus was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom. After they completed its days, as they were returning, Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it. After three days of searching, they found him in the temple. ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety. …’” The passage ends, “His mother kept all these things in her heart.”

For the Sisters of Mercy 2021 Lenten blog series, artist and writer Sister Renee Yann created images to evoke the spirit of the Beatitudes and the blessed journey of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Click here to read how she describes her inspiration.

I believe Jesus did, too. I believe Mary and Joseph must have shared with Jesus their journey to Bethlehem, some of the circumstances surrounding his birth, the need to travel to Egypt, their fear when they thought they had lost him. 

Jesus experienced the depth and fullness of human emotion. He understood their fear and anxiety.  

What can be learned from fear and anxiety? 

Jesus learned to be sensitive to others’ pain and loss and to their ability to cause it, as well. There are many passages in the Gospels that recount Jesus being moved with compassion and even shedding tears:

  • In Nain, when Jesus encountered the widow whose son was about to be buried, Jesus saw her pain, was moved with compassion and brought her son back to life. (Luke 7:11–17) 
  • Before Jesus was betrayed and turned over to the authorities, he was greatly distressed and wept over Jerusalem and the world because they had not followed God’s ways and did not know the things that make for peace. (Luke 13:34)
  • When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha were stricken with horrific grief. Jesus not only felt their pain, he wept bitterly with them and brought Lazarus back to life. (John 11:1–43) 

Time and time again, Christ shows up, meets people in their darkest hour and encounters them with God’s tender mercy and compassion.

Both Christ’s divinity and humanity uniquely formed who he was. Being the Son of God and the Son of Mary and Joseph revealed to him how God’s love manifests itself in the frailty and anxiety of human history. 

When Mary and Joseph remembered and shared the experiences of those early days with Jesus, their anxiety could not have been hidden in the retelling, but neither could their love and their deep trust in God. Jesus would have learned that, too, and so he learned to offer healing and comfort to all he encountered. 

Our world continues to mourn the sickness and deaths caused by COVID-19, and we are wrestling with the political turmoil that is ravaging our societies. May we trust that Jesus—who mourned with others and who was tempted and tried in every way—is with us and is bringing healing and comfort as we ourselves reach out to those in need. 

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  1. Mary Ann Clarahan RSM

    Thanks very much, Diane, for your prayerful and insightful reflection on “blessed are those who mourn…”. Much appreciated!

  2. Kathleen McAlpin

    Thank you for your thoughtful reflection.

  3. Graham Peck

    Thank you for your beautiful reflection on Christ Sister Swanson!

  4. william notis

    So beautifully written. Great Reflection.

  5. Sue LaVoie, Companion in Mercy

    Thank you, Diane, for a reflection that took me deeper into a familiar passage. I never stopped to think how Jesus learned compassion and the ability to listen deeply … from his parents … from the stories of his own life as experienced by them.

  6. Judith Petrocy

    So very well said! Those words bring forth many life experiences we all go through, especially in these COVID, political times that have brought tragedies we never dreamed of, throughout our entire planet! Food for thought, and prayers a plenty! Thanks Diane!

  7. Sister Natalie Rossi

    Thank you for your inspirational words. I think we do need to be reminded of how human Jesus was.

  8. Sheryl Reid

    Consoling. Thank you!

  9. Sharon Kirsch

    Thank you Sister Diane for sharing your reflection. It was very meaningful.

  10. Valerie Burnie

    Thank you for helping so many during Lent.

  11. Diane Matje, RSM


    Thank you for sharing your reflection on how human and compassionate Jesus was and is helping us to be especially during these most stressful and trying times! So much appreciated.

  12. Lawrence Fisher

    A beautiful reflection on how we learn life’s lessons.

  13. Sr. Mary Ellen Twist, RSM

    Beautiful and timely reflection, Diane.
    So many people are suffering all around us. The Spirit of the compassionate Christ is with us.

  14. Agnese Neumann

    What a thoughtful,reflective, expression of Christ’s compassion and love for all. Thanks for all the time you spent preparing this for us.

  15. judith smith

    Thank you, Sister Diane. This gave me a little different insight into this incident.

  16. BJ O'Brien

    Thank you for letting me know that I can share my feelings of loss with Mary.

  17. Gary Loncki

    Grateful for your meditation, Sister Diane. This line struck me: “Being the Son of God and the Son of Mary and Joseph revealed to him how God’s love manifests itself in the frailty and anxiety of human history.” It reminds me of our individual spiritual journeys and how our experiences are used by the Spirit to bring us more to our true self in Christ.

  18. The Perrys. Joe and Lenore

    God bless you

  19. Richard Mary Burke

    Diane, thank you so much for your insightful reflection and the relevance with what we can learn in our daily challenges in these days.

  20. Ann Heraty

    Hi, Sister Diane. I am sitting in the Chapel at Saint Bernadette for my weekly hour of Adoration, grateful for your beautiful meditation. Your words continue to touch my heart. I love the phrase, ‘Time and again, Christ shows up!’ Who could ask for more?

  21. Rita Torres

    i am deeply moved by this meditation, reflection and the sereneness of the vivid artistry. My heart relies upon these meditations. I really cannot live without constant contact with our precious Lord and Our Lady as well. These meditations help to provide that connection
    And, I can’t begin to express how awestruck I am by Diane’s artistic talent. Such comfort is evoked in my soul to know that I am loved by my beautiful creator, that I am forgiven and that I can count on our God to make me forgiving even to those who have committed the most grievous offenses causing me decades of intrusive painful memories. I can love only because God puts that love in my heart and feeds it every day with Her/His own love! A soft, tender feminine love that only our Creator, who I believe is both male and female can possess.