Thomas Aquinas makes an interesting comment in his commentary on the Beatitudes, when he suggests that ‘Blessed are those who mourn’ is the special beatitude for those whose vocation is to extend the boundaries of knowledge . . . a suggestion which at first sight seems extraordinary.
When challenged, though, he provides an answer which actually makes very good sense.
Those who seek to extend the boundaries of knowledge are constantly seeking new truths; or at least new dimensions of truth . . . whilst it is part of the nature of man to cherish the status quo, to love inertia, and to detest anything which challenges our comfortable lives : a proposition which is only too painfully true to me !
Losing such things amounts to a bereavement; and it is one which affects us very painfully . . . we agonize over the loss of what feels like part of ourselves, and in the loss of stability we feel that we have lost part of life itself . . . and that loss, like any and every significant loss, is something which we mourn.
However, that loss is a good thing, because it is moving us forward in our knowledge and understanding of God : our mourning at the loss of one we loved dearly and closely is also, strange as it seems (and here I speak from experience) ultimately a good thing too, because from it we learn many, and important, lessons about God – and perhaps particularly about the working of His will, and His love . . . so that all our mourning, natural as it is, is nevertheless a precious expression of the working out of God’s will for us, and for His world, as we gain a better appreciation of Him; and are blessed by Him in this way.
Blessed are those who mourn : for they are moving closer to God.