GOSPEL READING: John 16:16-20
16 “A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, `because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What does he mean by `a little while’? We do not know what he means.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, `A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
Meditation: How does “weeping” and “rejoicing” go together? Jesus contrasts present sorrows with the future glory to be revealed to those who put their hope in God. For the people of Israel time was divided into two ages – the present age and the age to come. The prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah as the dawn of a new age. Jesus tells his disciples two important truths. First, he must leave them to return to his Father and second, he will surely come again at the end of time to usher in the new age of God’s kingdom.
Jesus’ victory over sin and death brings us supernatural joy without end
Jesus’ orientation for the time between his first coming and his return in glory at the end of the world is a reversal of the world’s fortunes. The world says take your joy now in whatever pleasures you can get from this present life. Jesus points to an “other-worldly” joy which transcends anything this world can offer. Jesus contrasts present sorrows with future joy. A woman in labor suffers the birth-pangs first, but then forgets her sorrow as soon as her new-born child comes to birth. We cannot avoid pain and sorrow if we wish to follow Jesus to the cross. But in the cross of Christ we find freedom, victory, and joy. Thomas Aquinas said: “No one can live without joy. That is why a man or woman deprived of spiritual joy will turn to carnal pleasures”. Do you know the joy of the Lord?
To you, O Jesus, do I turn my true and last end. You are the river of life which alone can satisfy my thirst. Without you all else is barren and void. Without all else you alone are enough for me. You are the Redeemer of those who are lost; the sweet Consoler of the sorrowful; the crown of glory for the victors; the recompense of the blessed. One day I hope to receive of your fullness, and to sing the song of praise in my true home. Give me only on earth some few drops of consolation, and I will patiently wait your coming that I may enter into the joy of my Lord. (Bonaventure, 1221-74 AD)
1 O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
2 The LORD has made known his victory, he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!