The Holy Gospel according to John (16:20-23).
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
Reflection: I do not know what it is to give birth to a child. I have been in the room when my wife gave birth to our children. I could see that she was in much pain as her labor intensified. Once our child was born and she was able to hold our baby, I could see joy, not pain, in her face. Every woman who has given birth to a child can bear witness to the truth of what Jesus says here – that once the child is born, how the pain and distress experienced by the mother is changed into joy at the safe birth of her baby. Relatively all the pain of giving birth is forgotten, so great is the joy of bringing a child into the world. And yet this joy pales in comparison with the joy of God’s everlasting love, a deep-down joy that nothing can take from us. It is a conviction that God is near and does not abandon us. God’s joy lasts. Jesus warns his disciples that difficult days will come for them. The disciples will have to go through a similar experience as the new Jesus, the Risen Christ, enters his new life.
Today’s Gospel adds the promise that, when Jesus sees them again, they will experience a joy “no one can take from you”. They will no longer have need to ask the questions they are asking now. It does not mean that there will not be more sufferings in the future. There will be and some of them will give their lives for their commitment to Jesus and the Kingdom. But, for those who are close to Jesus, pain and joy are not incompatible.
Jesus also wants us to know and believe that after our difficult days, we also will experience new life. Once again, we will see him and experience His presence with us. We will be able to rejoice when Jesus gifts us with new life and hope. Our part is to trust and be watchful and attentive to his coming. This often is easier said than done. We may know Jesus will come again, but when life is difficult and painful, we may not trust that new life and hope will ever return to us. If we truly trust Jesus, we will stay on the journey with him despite the difficulty and the pain.
Action for the day: How great is our trust in Jesus, especially when we don’t see Him or feel His presence? The reality is that Jesus is always with us. Today Jesus is certain to come to us in one way or another. Will our minds, eyes, and hearts be open to his presence? As we go about our day, give thanks to God when we do experience Jesus’ presence in our lives.