UPON THIS ROCK
BY FATHER DON FARNAN
I think it was G. K. Chesterton who once quipped that there should be a ninth Beatitude and it should read: “Blessed are the broken-hearted, for they provide a crack by which God can enter and dwell within them.”
With broken hearts, many parents have had to bury their child. I don’t know a greater sadness than this. In Kansas City, we have all attended far too many funerals of young people and wept with their parents and family members as the children were bid farewell. It is a club that no parent wants to join—yet these club members are present to one another because only they can understand the depth of the grief of their brokenness.
We sometimes say that The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) call us to be aligned with the attitude of Christ. Like forgiveness or mercy, empathy for those who suffer loss is not just an act that we perform or an action that we offer, it is an attitude that we incorporate into our human experience. Our actions and behaviors become habits and patterns that subsequently become part of who we are. We want to embrace this attitude because it makes us more like Jesus.
Some of us are drawn to the Beatitudes because we know that, at our worst or most vulnerable moments, the Good Lord wants to lift us up from that which puts us down. Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount by proclaiming eight beatitudes or blessings. In doing this, He didn’t praise religious giants or those that possess societal prestige or power but offered His grace and allegiance to those that suffer or humbly empathize with the hurting, forgotten, and marginalized members of society. These powerless people are sometimes known as “anawim” (the faithful remnant that have little to give and much pain to bear). For Jesus, the champions of faith aren’t those who claim victory over others’ faults or who remain untouched by difficult situations but those who’re poor in spirit, pure of heart, peacemakers…who get worn out and marred by life’s struggles yet somehow manage to maintain integrity, even siding with heaven when the world tells us it’s the losing side from an earthly perspective and that all we get for our pain is more pain.
Jesus knows what it’s like to be them: to get walked on, worked over, cussed out, or left behind; He knows what it’s like to be forsaken and abandoned, to bear a broken heart. And so, He blesses those that allow themselves to be loved in their deepest brokenness because they experience a different kind of love that defies human comprehension. As theologian Samuel Chadwick once said, “For Christ, the prayer that always prevails is the cry of the broken heart and travail of the stricken soul.”
Let us remember, pray for, and remain close to, those who bear the dark sadness of losing children and all who bear deep pain. May they allow Christ to enter through the hole of their broken hearts and somehow, in that, help the rest of us to become a little more human, knowing that they are blessed and held tightly by Our Savior, who also holds their children for them until they are all reunited in heaven.