Friday of the Sixth Week in Lent
(Acts 18:9-18; John 16:20-23)
Someone you love is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She will be dead most probably within a year, perhaps a little more, but there is no long-term prognosis. You begin the excruciating ordeal of saying, “Good-bye.” This is the situation of the disciples which the Lord himself addresses in today’s gospel.
Jesus anticipates the pain his disciples will feel when he dies as the labor a woman endures when she gives birth. Its sharpness will take their breath away. Its duration will inscribe itself like a knife in wood. But seeing Jesus in the resurrection will be like hearing the cries of new life. Immediately pain’s grip is released and exultation mutes any lingering acuteness. The disciples’ desires will then be purified so that whatever they ask – understanding of what is going on, capacity to share their ecstasy with others, wisdom to never doubt again – will be granted.
We naturally do not want to suffer pain. But we accept it and even embrace it at times as necessary to reach heightened awareness, indeed a whole new kind of life. We should see the pain of death as taking us closer to the Lord by making us ever reliant on Him and by seeing His goodness encompassing more than the wonders of this world.