Psalm 47:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
In the Gospel today Jesus talks about perspective and giving things time. He says we are like women in labor. A woman in labor is really in pain, but after the child is born the joy of the baby overshadows the pain of the labor. He doesn’t in any way make light of the real sufferings, but puts them in this perspective. The same way the woman’s joy at her child overshadows the sufferings that preceded it, so the joys of heaven will overshadow the sufferings we have experienced on earth.
Time and perspective make a big difference in understanding a situation. It doesn’t necessarily take away pain and suffering, but it lets us see where it is heading. The woman in childbirth would not willingly go through the pain for nothing, but would think it worth it for the outcome – the blessing of a child.
Just today I got an email forward about perspective. It was the story of two angels who came to earth and asked a rich couple for lodging. The couple begrudgingly gave the angels a cot in the basement and a bit of bread, but the angel fixed a hole in the wall while they were there. The other angel said why are you being nice to these people who are not nice to us? And the other angel said, wait, things are not as they seem. The next night they stayed with a poor farm couple. This couple had nothing, but shared everything they had. They shared their meager supper and put the angels up in their own bed and they slept on the floor in the front room. That night their cow died, their only source of income. The one angel said that it wasn’t right – these people were so nice, and their cow died, couldn’t they have saved it? And the other couple was so mean and they got home repairs. But the other angel said that there was a treasure hidden behind that hole that those people would not find now. And that death had come for the poor wife, and had been persuaded to take the cow instead so the couple could spend a few more years together. Things are not as they seem. And while the suffering is real, the perspective allows a look at the outcome. The poor couple is surely suffering from the loss of the cow, but having perspective and realizing that the choice was the wife or the cow, would have willingly given up the cow.
The early Christians Jesus was addressing were certainly suffering. And while others around them were rejoicing. The first reading said that God would protect His people, but now these people are suffering. But the sufferings on earth, while very real, are also transitory. And at the end of these sufferings is a wonderful birth to a joyful existence where earthly suffering will be overshadowed by heavenly joys.
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