Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labour, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have pain now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.’
I am sure you have noticed how many more people revel in stories of misfortune, rather than in accounts of the good things that happen to their fellow human beings. Our entire news media seems to be predicated on the peddling of disaster and despair, with very little attention dedicated to the ‘good news’. As with the national and international media, so with many of the people we encounter in our daily lives. I am sure we all know the sort of person … no matter how joyous the news there always seems to be a Job’s comforter to dampen the mood with some counter-argument that focuses on the negative.
In today’s reading Jesus puts all that is negative in our lives into a different perspective. He does not pretend that we will only ever encounter the positive and the painless. Instead he gives us the reassurance that if we remain steadfast in faith we will see our pain come to an end, we will know rejoicing in our hearts, we will experience an intensity of joy that no nay-sayer can diminish.
It is a fact of the human condition that we will all know times of pain. That pain may be physical, mental or spiritual. That pain may be inflicted upon us by the words and actions of others, it may be the result of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstance, or it may be self-inflicted in some way. No matter where the roots of the pain may be situated, Jesus promises relief. Jesus promises the fullness of his presence, rejoicing in our hearts, and a joy that can never be taken away from us.
Today we are being challenged to turn our backs on those who seek to diminish our rejoicing and our joy. Instead of hankering after the good opinions of others who afford us superficial worldly status we are challenged to stand firm in the presence of Jesus. Then, and only then, will we know the end of pain and the true joy that is promised to every faithful disciple.