Commentary on John 16:20-23
Today’s Gospel repeats much of yesterday’s about the sorrow the disciples will experience when Jesus goes away (in his suffering and death) and the joy they will experience when he soon returns (in his resurrection).
Jesus compares their experience to a woman about to give birth to a child. During the time of delivery she suffers greatly but is so happy once her child is born. The joy of seeing her newborn child face to face is worth any pain. The disciples will have to go through a similar experience as the new Jesus, the Risen Christ, enters his new life and the new People of God, his post-resurrection Body, comes to birth.
Today’s passage adds the promise that, when Jesus sees them again, they will experience a joy “no one can take from you”. And they will no longer have need to ask the questions they are asking now. It does not mean that there will not be more sufferings in the future. There will be and some of them will give their lives for their commitment to Jesus and the Kingdom. But, for those who are close to Jesus, pain and joy are not incompatible.
Let us pray that we, too, who have the enduring presence of the Risen Jesus with us at all times, wherever we happen to be, experience – in spite of inevitable trials and disappointments – the same kind of joy. In fact, we have reason to be concerned if there is not an underlying joy in our lives. It should make us wonder just how close we really are to Jesus.