This day in the Christian Year marks the day after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven when the Disciples knew that Jesus was no longer with them in the way that he had been.
Today’s Gospel is a flash-back to Jesus preparing his Disciples for that time when he would no longer be with them physically. After speaking of pain and joy Jesus said to his Disciples; “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (Jn 16:22)
How did he get the knowledge of pain and joy he showed his disciples? Jesus had grown up in an ordinary Palestinian house of one or two rooms. In those surroundings he would have been familiar with the pains of women in childbirth, and the joy of a new life being born into this world; and with the sadness of the partings brought by death. Nowadays such things take place in hospitals or clinics.
Jesus knew that the time was coming when he would be separated from his disciples. Their lives would change as they took up the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel Message, the Good News of Salvation and Everlasting Life.
Ultimately they would come to the joy of new life in heaven, as Jesus promised them.
Our lives also change as we go through different periods in our lives. There may be times when we face the sadness of leaving one part of life to enter a new and different experience. Some of us here have been called to monastic vows, and others are following the path to which God has called them. It is still possible to have feelings of sadness and face disappointments. Nevertheless, in my experience, these times are usually followed by compensations that are satisfying and joyful.
The challenge of new responsibilities can be a time of refreshment and new joy. Faith plays an important role in this.
The way in which faith helps us can be seen in part of a hymn by Thomas Aquinas:
Faith our outward sense befriending,
Makes our inward vision clear. [Repeat]
(Hymnal 1982, No. 329-30, Tantum Ergo)
Jesus’ words of encouragement to his disciples gave them strength to face the changes that came in their lives.
You, also, can take Jesus’ words of encouragement, or words like them, to help you face changes; disappointment, sadness, or joy in your life.
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