Readings: Acts 18:9-18, Ps. 47:2-7, John 16:20-23

“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.” (John 16:20)

Life is in a state of constant motion. These days, I am fascinated by the speed of time. One minute, it is morning, and before one blinks, it is night. I sit down to write the day’s reflection, and when I think I have only sat for a few minutes, I realise I have just spent the last three hours pondering the points in the readings. The book of Ecclesiastes was correct when it stated that: “For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). Regardless of the season, you are in today; it will not last forever. In today’s first reading, Paul enjoyed a period of peace for a year and six months, but when Gallio became proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on him. Nothing lasts, as Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel passage; even if we face sorrow, it will turn into joy. This brings us to our lessons today:

1. Consider Your Sufferings for God as Labour Pains: A few days ago, Jesus told us: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world; therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19). As long as we let our light shine as God’s children, we cannot escape moments of persecution. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus likens these persecutions to the pains a woman feels when she is about to give birth: “When a woman is in travail, she has sorrow because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; your hearts will rejoice…” (John 16:20-23). It is not easy to be a Christian in a world that has rejected God. Nevertheless, when you experience sorrow, do not give up on God because moments of joy will follow.

2. Our Hearts Remain Restless, Insatiable Until We Get Home: Just as nothing in life lasts forever, nothing on earth gives us permanent satisfaction. We are always in need of something. It appears there is a vacuum in our hearts; our desires are never met. The more we get, the more we need. Jesus tells us today: “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day, you will ask nothing of me.” (John 16:22-23). We can only experience brief moments of happiness because many things can take away our joy on earth, but no one will take away our joy when we get to heaven. Jesus says, “On that day, you will ask nothing of me.” We would not ask for anything because we would lack nothing. Whatever joy the world can give you is nothing compared to the joy of heaven.

3. Have No Fear, God is King of All The Earth: Today’s Psalm sings: “God is King of all the earth.” This statement takes into cognisance Paul’s experience in today’s First Reading. God told Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:9-10). In as much as there would be moments of pain (as Jesus said in today’s Gospel passage), God is a Good Shepherd; He will not stand idly to watch the wolf destroy the sheep under His care. Remember that God is still in charge of this world. When Paul was brought before the tribunal, he didn’t even have to utter a word. His enemies ended up fighting themselves. After this experience, Paul remained for many days before leaving that city. Paul left not because anyone drove him away but because he wanted to continue spreading the Good news. As long as your hands are clean, keep doing what is right. God will protect you.

Let us pray: Come, O Holy Spirit, fill our hearts, and enkindle in us your Sacred Fire. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Friday of the 6th week of Eastertide. Bible Study: Acts 18:9-18, Ps. 47:2-7, John 16:20-23).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu