When pondering the Word it is important to understand the context in which the Word is written in a given Gospel story. The Word is other centered. Yes, in God’s good will we are recipients of God’s blessings, but those blessings produce blessings for others, or otherwise they are not blessings at all. With the “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus goes up a mountain, beyond the crowd which has gathered. He can see them all. The disciples join him. They leave the crowd with whom they were standing and go and position themselves in a “learning” position.
The first part of each Beatitude has to do with a particular Christ-like position we take in the face of obvious need, e.g. mourning. The second part of each of the beatitudes is focused on those who are the recipients of the particular approaches we take in the face of people’s needs, e.g. “they will be comforted.” Our particular behavioral approaches to people are the beatitudes, the blessings meant for others, not for ourselves. The Beatitudes are other-oriented.
So, too, consolation and patient endurance demand an energy beyond our human capability. “If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same suffering that we are also suffering.” (2 Cor. 1: 5)
Like Jesus we have trust in the mercy and consolation from the Father towards us.
It is only in looking back, as Paul did Himself in writing these letters, do we realize where our consoling God has been with us.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., is the pastor Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Birmingham, Alabama.