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John 16:20-23

The Word of God

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.

John 16:20-23
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Today’s passage adds the promise that, when Jesus sees them again, they will experience a joy “no one can take from you”. They will no longer need to ask the questions they are asking now. It does not mean that there will not be more suffering 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.
    • Let us pray that we too, who have the enduring presence of the risen Jesus with us at all times, may experience – in spite of inevitable trials and disappointments – the same kind of joy.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Jesus speaks to me today of the sorrow of separation and the joy of reunion. These are concepts within my own human experience. Perhaps right now I am suffering the pain of a separation from a loved one, whether through death or by some other means. I hear Jesus saying that separation is not forever, that a time of joy will come again when we will be with him and with those we have loved, and that when that time comes, our joy will be certain and permanent.
    • I allow these consoling words of Jesus to pour into my heart like balm.
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    • 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, and it lasts.
    • John’s Gospel has much to say about God’s love for us. To love is to give, to be with, and for, the one whom we love. May I have a sense of God loving me in my loving of the significant people in my life.
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    • In the four Gospels, the emphasis on Christ’s Passion and crucifixion almost overwhelms the Resurrection narrative. Church teaching often suggests that we find God through suffering, but far less frequently that we find God through joy. Yet Jesus himself never saw suffering as an end in itself – he endured the Cross “for the joy that was set before him.” At the Last Supper, he urged his disciples to abide in his love, “that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”.
    • According to Teilhard de Chardin, joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. Lord, may your joy be abundant in our hearts!
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • 'When a woman is in labour she has pain'. Jesus reminds us today of the price that mothers pay for their children: a fruitful line of prayer. There was a time when I was a helpless embryo in my mother’s womb, feeding from her through the placenta. For those heavy months, mother was not merely carrying my growing weight, but concerned about how her life and behaviour would affect my health. Then she faced the acute pain, which males can hardly imagine, of bringing me into the world; and she continued to feed me, and stay on 24-hour duty to watch for my breathing and well-being. Let me never take for granted all the price that has been paid for my existence.
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    • Jesus speaks of pain that turned to joy and invites the disciples to be patient, as he was. He is not talking about an empty waiting, but sees an opportunity to grow in trust, to deepen our relationship with our loving God.
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    • Childbirth was a traditional biblical metaphor for the sufferings that were to herald the age of the Messiah. Giving birth to a renewed world will always entail suffering.
    • Jesus, I ask you now to help me to remain with you always, to be close to you with a passionate heart, and to accept patiently whatever you want of me. And make me a joyous person!
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • /When a woman is in labour she has sorrow/. Jesus reminds us today of the price that mothers pay for their children: a fruitful line of prayer. There was a time when I was a helpless embryo in my mother's womb, feeding from her through the placenta. For those heavy months, mother was not merely carrying my growing weight, but concerned about how her life and behaviour would affect my health. Then she faced the acute pain, which males can hardly imagine, of bringing me into the world; and she continued to feed me, and stay on 24-hour duty to watch for my breathing and well-being. Let me never take for granted all the price that has been paid for my existence.
    • Pain and the varied difficulties of life need not be the final word for the follower of Jesus. Pain often turns to joy, and in every small 'death' in life is the hope of rising into a deeper life with Jesus. Problems can be a path towards growth, especially in the context of love; they may also be a cul-de-sac, blocking any future development and joy. With Jesus we walk always with the 'Alleluia' on our lips and in our hearts.
    • Perhaps I already know what it is like to ask nothing of Jesus, recognising that there are times when I am content. I pray for a deep appreciation of God's goodness and for trust.
    • I acknowledge any pain that may be in my life and ask God for healing.