Every additional Beatitude deepens the breach between the disciples and the people. The disciples' call becomes more and more visible. Those who mourn are those who are prepared to renounce and live without everything the world calls happiness and peace.
They are those who cannot be brought into accord with the world, who cannot conform to the world. They mourn over the world, its guilt, its fate, and its happiness.... No one understands people better than Jesus' community. No one loves people more than Jesus' disciples․that is why they stand apart, why they mourn; it is meaningful and lovely that Luther translates the Greek word for what is blessed with "to bear suffering." The important part is the bearing. The community of disciples does not shake off suffering, as if they had nothing to do with it. Instead they bear it. In doing so, they give witness to their connection with the people around them. At the same time this indicates that they do not arbitrarily seek suffering, that they do not withdraw into willful contempt for the world. Instead, they bear what is laid upon them and what happens to them in discipleship for the sake of Jesus Christ. Finally, disciples will not be weakened by suffering, worn down, and embittered until they are broken. Instead, they bear suffering, by the power of him who supports them. The disciples bear the suffering laid on them only by the power of him who bears all suffering on the cross. As bearers of suffering, they stand in communion with the Crucified. They stand as strangers in the power of him who was so alien to the world that it crucified him.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4
Questions to Ponder
Practically speaking, what does it mean to "mourn over the world"?
How can a "community of disciples" bear suffering in a way that is healthy and redemptive?
How can individual Christians and communities of faith not be conformed to the world and yet not hold the world in contempt?
As Christians bear suffering for the sake of the world, how do they engage "the power of him who bears all suffering on the cross"?
You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. Psalm 30:11-12
List the times when you have mourned "over the world."
Reflect on your experience of such mourning. What was it like? What did you do? How did you feel? What resources helped you live through your mourning?
Have you ever had to bear suffering because of your Christian faith? Write about the experience. What did you learn from the experience?
Pray for world, "its guilt, its fate, and its happiness." Pray for those who suffer from the world's injustice, that they may find justice. Pray for the unjust, that they might experience repentance, find forgiveness, be filled with compassion, and begin to do justice.
Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, give me such compassion and love for our hurting world that I might truly mourn for all who suffer in any way.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.