“The Gospel is right, however, when it dares to speak to us of the value of suffering and affliction. We realize this as soon as we have the courage to face the concrete reality of our lives. They are a strange mixture of sorrow, pleasure and pain, success and suffering, life and death. When we have lived a little and seen the suffering of those around us, we begin to realize that the phrase “valley of tears” is not so obsolete after all. The temptation to discouragement, despair, and thoughts of the absurdity of life is as widespread today as in the former times. Quite simply, the Gospel is telling the truth when it places suffering before us. It is our common lot.
The third beatitude invites us first of all to be fully human: not children, to be amused with pretty stories and shielded from painful and disturbing sights, but adults who dare to look reality in the face and accept “blood, sweat, and tears” if need be – to borrow the words of Churchill’s challenge to England in 1940 – without running away. This is not depravity or contempt for life. On the contrary, it takes tremendous strength, for it is in struggling that life is most fully affirmed, lived, and completed. It is precisely the virtue of courage that defines the adult.
According to the ancients the characteristic activity of courage is confrontation with death. For Christians, it is the witness of martyrdom. Trial and suffering and the thought of death are necessary, therefore, to form us and teach us the meaning of life.
Think of a man or woman who has never known anything but pleasure and joy, ease and comfort, and who comes to life’s end without ever having suffered. Even though we may envy such a person somewhat, don’t we think of them as grown-up children, lacking maturity? This is certainly not to say that we have to look for suffering in order to exercise ourselves in courage. All we need is to wait. We shall always be generously served. In the meantime, nothing prevents us from accepting the joys that come our way, such as the sight of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, as in the Gospel parable, and from enjoying the company of our friends, as Jesus did at Bethany.”
The Pursuit of Happiness – God’s Way: Living the Beatitudes Servais Pinckaers, OP