Daily Reflection
June 2nd, 2000
Todd Salzman
Theology Department
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Acts 18:9-18
Psalms 47:2-7
John 16:20-23

The poignant imagery of today’s Gospel of a woman’s travail, lament, sorrow and, ultimate joy, brings to mind the day our twin boys were born.  I still vividly remember my wife’s labor (though not nearly as vividly as does she!), the waiting, exhaustion, pain, and eventual birth of the boys.  All of her anguish, suffering, sorrow and pain vanished at the sight and sound of new life.  Yet, it is only through that experience, the experience of child-birth or the day-to-day challenges of life that sometimes bring sorrow and anxiety, that joy can come.  Not only does the joy create one anew, but it also transforms the very experience, perception, and meaning of the sorrow.  As in parenthood and life, while there are peak moments of these transformative experiences, they are an ongoing process throughout our Christian journey that shape our perception of events, experiences and relationships. 

I often think about people who experience profound tragedy and the different responses to it.  Bud Welch, for example, lost his daughter in the Oklahoma City bombing.  Last year he came and spoke at our parish.  It was amazing to me to see this person, who had suffered a devastating loss, speaking out against the death penalty on behalf of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.  Rather than being filled with hate, anger and rage seeking the death of the two men responsible for his daughter’s death, his faith had the power to transform his lament, sorrow and suffering into a true peace.  He has been able to see God working in and through himself with a purpose that is not always clear or comprehensible to human understanding, but is embraced nonetheless with the trust of a true disciple.  One can imagine St. Paul in today’s first reading, struggling with his own sorrow, his own threat of persecution, while at the same time experiencing a sense of peace and joy in the midst of this turmoil.  While we are promised God’s peace and joy in eternity, our faith in this eternal promise allows us to perceive reality from a unique perspective and to experience a glimpse of that joy in the here and now.  There are no promises in the Gospel that we will not experience sorrow.  In fact, the opposite is true.  What is promised is the capacity to find meaning and, sometimes, even joy in suffering and sorrow.  I pray for wisdom and understanding to perceive as a true disciple in both the sorrowful and joyful experiences in life.

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