3. The Second Beatitude

Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.

Matt. 5:4. (King James Version)

The figure of Christ is caught in the mesh of cogs and wheels which symbolize our machine age. We live in a civilization which places the highest value on profits, production, and possessions. Men, women and children are exploited. Christ enters into this kind of impersonal, mechanized society. He identifies with those who suffer and cannot extricate themselves from this system. Many are trapped as he is here with the assembly line and the never ending monotony. There is in this system also the hopelessness that comes out of success in achieving inadequate goals, goals that foster selfishness and diminish human concern.

In this painting Christ seems to have folded his hands and closed his eyes in sad acceptance of being caught in an inescapable situation. It is not in acceptance, however, but in identification with all of us who are caught in the plight of a faltering economy, with inflation, high interest rates and unemployment: a situation in which people want to work but there are no jobs available, and poverty brings disillusionment and despair. With all our technology and industrial skills to increase production and develop natural resources, we cannot find a way to cope with hunger and destitution in the human family.

In the midst of the wheels surrounding Christ, there is the cross. The way out of this predicament is symbolized by a willingness to identify with those who are most adversely affected, to sacrificially share one's own advantages in order to bring into being a plan of living that will meet the needs of all people.


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