Date: May 22, 2020 (Easter)
Bible Text: First Reading: ACTS 18:9-18; Gospel: JN 16:20-23 | Fr. Roniel Duenas
Series: Scripture Reflections
With all things prepared and ready for the recommencing, let no anxiety and fear deter us from going back to our church.
In today’s gospel, Jesus spoke of his leaving while being aware of his disciples’ anguish. He likened the disciples’ pain to the pangs of birth. But in this discourse, He made them understand that there is something worth waiting for in His going back to the Father. The truth is: the suffering in childbirth heralds the joy of a mother who would finally see and hold in her arms her precious newborn. In the same way, the suffering of His disciples is the prelude to the joy of new life. Jesus was already speaking here about the joy of Easter.
This is the joy that the saint we honor today, St. Rita of Cascia, had been holding on and looking forward to in the midst of her earthly suffering and in her physical participation in the sufferings of Christ (stigmata). This is the same joy that enables her to endure unfavorable situations as she deals with her wicked husband on the way to his conversion and the healing of a feud between families.
We are all invited to experience such a kind of joy solely found in our close friendship with the Lord - that kind of inner happiness that comes from the conviction that the risen Lord is with us, is among us and is within us.
Our first reading opens with the Lord’s consolation to Paul: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.” These words of Jesus also point us to the reality that there are always oppositions we encounter along the way in regard to our work of spreading the good news. Unbelief and stubbornness that led to persecution are among the setbacks in Paul’s time. However, when Jesus said: “I am with you”, it comes with an assurance that in the end Paul will be consoled by the same joy that the apostles witnessed in Easter and in his ascension. I guess, it is the same encouragement that the Lord wants His people to hear also today in this time of testing and pain. And, just as the Word of the Lord should not be silenced, so our eagerness to listen to his words must not be hindered as well. With all things prepared and ready for the recommencing, let no anxiety and fear deter us from going back to our church. We want our churches opened because we want to experience in a more personal way his presence in the celebration of the sacraments.