Jesus said to his disciples: “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16;19-22)
Children usually have extreme feelings. When they are happy, they are incredibly happy; when they are sad, they are incredibly sad. Since every feeling is intense, it does not last long. They go from a state of euphoria to a state of deep sadness in a few moments.
Adulthood teaches us to mix our feelings, to experience situations where we can neither be completely happy nor completely sad. Often, our concern for others is such that we cannot eliminate the aspect of legitimate worry which is present in love.
In this passage Jesus speaks about sadness and joy. More precisely, he describes a sadness that leads to joy.
Jesus is going to die. He knows it. He announces a great sadness and does not try to hide it. He leaves room for the authenticity of this feeling, without trying to offer a cheap consolation. On the contrary, at this particular moment he speaks about joy in a rather negative way. Joy here belongs to “the world,” in other words all the structures that combine to stifle the newness of God’s message, the good news of God’s unconditional love.
Sharing sadness is a very powerful act. Its power is the power of compassion. It enables us to attune ourselves to the feeling of great fragility felt by someone for whom life has not kept its promises.
Authentic sadness, if it bears love within it, opens the door to a superior form of joy. That joy is born in suffering. That is why Jesus uses the image of a woman giving birth. This new feeling enters in us through blood and tears. Its structure is given by the resistance we offer to difficulties. The joy which Jesus speaks about comes from those who let their hands be pierced on all the crosses that life imposes on them. Like the blood and water that flow from the pierced side of Jesus, love turns into joy when people who love one another realize that the trials will not separate them.
True joy is the joy of the covenant. The covenant that affirms that no one is to be cursed, not even the executioners. The covenant that does not abandon anyone, but which instead shares blood, tears and light.
In this way Jesus teaches us courage. With him, even in the dark valleys, our audacity gives us the joy of those who have nothing to lose, because they know they are loved.
Have I ever experienced moments when sadness and joy came together?
In sharing others’ pain, what feelings grow in me?
To love more, what demanding call must I answer at this moment in my life? Does my relationship with Christ help me in this?