Truly, I say to you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. A woman in childbirth is in distress because her time is at hand. But after the child is born, she no longer remembers her suffering because of her great joy: a human being is born into the world.
You feel sorrowful now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice; and no one will take your joy from you. When that day comes you will not ask me anything. Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
Today’s first reading begins with the account of a nocturnal vision given to Paul and in which the Lord Jesus says two striking things to Paul. The first one is the following: “Many people in this city are mine.” This is a mysterious statement because the population of Corinth is as yet mostly pagan, the work of evangelization having barely begun. Yet Jesus says that many of these pagans are already his. His in what sense? Presumably in the sense that they have the basic honesty and moral habits (i.e. natural virtues) which predispose them to receive the Gospel favorably. These good people are “attuned” to the things of God. When the Shepherd calls to them through the preaching of Paul, they will recognize his voice (Jn 10:4) and follow him.
The second striking statement of Jesus to Paul is this one: “I am with you.” Now throughout the Bible, when God sends someone on a mission he reassures that someone by telling him or her: “I am / I will be with you.” (Gen 26:3; Ex 3:12; Dt 31:23; Jos 1:5; 6:12, 16; etc.).
Genuine Christians know that Christ is always with them. This certainty is their strength and their consolation.
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