“The church must suffer for speaking the truth, for pointing out sin, for uprooting sin. No one wants to have a sore spot touched, and therefore a society with so many sores twitches when someone has the courage to touch it and say: “You have to treat that. You have to get rid of that. Believe in Christ. Be converted.” ― Archbishop Oscar A. Romero, an excerpt from the book “The Violence of Love”
Gospel Text: (JN 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."
We may often, in our despair and desolation, ask God “why”? Why do bad things happen to me, to those close to me, to those we love? It is difficult in the depths of our pain to believe that we will ever recover, let alone believe that God has a plan of joy and salvation for us. An attitude of hope and gratitude is challenging to maintain in our life’s journey when confronted with grief and sorrow, whatever the origin.
The example Jesus uses in the text above should begin to restore hope even in the depths of the pain of our human suffering. The example of the pain of childbirth is profound in that the joy of seeing the face of one’s newborn is worth the pain. While Jesus was most specifically referring to the pain the disciples will feel upon his crucifixion and their joy resulting from the risen Christ. Today’s Gospel reveals the promise that when Jesus sees them again they will experience a joy “no one can take away from you.”
When we are in despair, we can take comfort in the everlasting presence of the risen Jesus who in faith is with us always. Whatever our journey, and indeed we know we will experience sufferings in our lives, despite the inevitable tribulations we can experience the same joy promised to the disciples.