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12.02.20 General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall
Catechesis on the Beatitudes - those who weep
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
We have embarked a journey to the Beatitudes and today we dwell on the second: Blessed are those who weep, for they will be comforted.
In the Greek language in which the Gospel was written, this beatitude is expressed with a verb that is not passive – in fact the blessed do not suffer this weeping – but active: "they grieve "; they grieve, but from within. It is an attitude that has become central to Christian spirituality and that the fathers of the desert, the first monks of history, called "penthos", that is, an inner pain that opens up a relationship with the Lord and with ones neighbour; a new relationship with the Lord and with those near us.
This weeping, in the scriptures, can have two aspects: the first is for someone's death or suffering. The other aspect is tears for sin – for one's own sin – when the heart bleeds in the pain of having offended God and our neighbour.
The first aspect. Someone who is dear to us and we suffer because we lose him or because he is sick or we have made him suffer. These are people who remain distant. It is therefore a question of loving the other in such a way as to hold on to him or until we share his or her pain. There are people who remain distant, one step back; instead it is important that others make inroads into our hearts.
I have often spoken of the gift of tears, and how precious it is. Can you love coldly? Can you love for function, by duty? Certainly not. There are afflicted people to console, but sometimes there are also people to console to grieve, to awaken, who have a heart of stone and have unlearned to weep. There is also to awaken people who do not know how to be moved by the pain of others.
Mourning, for example, is a bitter road, but it can be useful to open our eyes to the life and sacred and irreplaceable value of each person, and at that moment one realizes how short the time is.
There is a second meaning of this paradoxical beatitude: weeping for sin.
Here we must distinguish: there are those who are angry because they have made a mistake. But that's pride. Instead there are those who weep for the evil done, for the good omitted, for the betrayal of the relationship with God. This is weeping for not having loved, that flows from having the life of others at heart. Here we mourn because we do not correspond to the Lord who loves us so much, and we are saddened by the thought of the good not done; that's the meaning of sin. They say, "I have hurt the one I love," and this grieves them to tears. God be blessed if these tears come!
This is the subject of one's mistakes to be addressed, difficult but vital. Let us think of the weeping of St Peter, which will lead him to a new and much truer love: it is a weeping that purifies, that renews. Peter looked at Jesus and wept: his heart was renewed. Unlike Judas, who did not accept that he had made a mistake and, poor man, committed suicide. Understanding sin is a gift from God, it is a work of the Holy Spirit. We alone cannot understand sin. It is a grace we must ask for. Lord, may I understand the evil I have done or can do. What have I done. This is a very great gift and after understanding this, comes the cry of repentance.
One of the first monks, Efrem the Syrian says that a face washed by tears is unspeakably beautiful (cf. Ascetic Speech). The beauty of repentance, the beauty of crying, the beauty of contrition! As always, Christian life has its best expression in mercy. Wise and blessed is the one who welcomes the pain of love, because he will receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit, which is the tenderness of God who forgives and corrects. God always forgives: let us not forget this. God always forgives, even the ugliest sins, always. The problem is within us, that we get tired of asking for forgiveness, we close ourselves in ourselves and we don't ask for forgiveness. That is the problem; but He is there to forgive.
If we always bear in mind that God "does not treat us according to our sins and does not repay us according to our faults"(Psalm 103:10), we live in mercy and compassion, and love appears in us.
May the Lord allow us to love in abundance, to love with a smile, with closeness, with service and even with tears.