The disciples’ joy » Manila Bulletin News



John 16:20-23

Jesus said to His disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question Me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.”



When a woman is in labor. Strictly speaking, John does not contain parables like the ones we find in the Synoptic gospels. Instead, John has paroimia or figures of speech that are akin to parables. An example is an image used by Jesus to shed light on His passion. At His “departure,” the disciples will grieve, but He will rise from the dead, and their sorrow will turn to joy. To illustrate this, Jesus points to the woman experiencing anguish at childbirth. But when the child is born, pain is easily replaced by joy.

Jesus’ imagery has roots in the scriptural portrayal of birth pangs that mothers experience. This is even presented as a consequence of the Fall. To the woman, the Lord said, “I will intensify your toil in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children” (Gn. 3:16). Birth pangs also allude to the time before salvation, like the “birth pangs” of Israel before the coming of the Day of the Lord. The book of Revelation (12:5) mentions the pain of the woman who delivers a male child, destined to rule all nations (a reference to the Messiah). And while the people of God await their final salvation, they likewise experience birth pangs. St. Paul writes, “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now… as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:22-23).


Recall a painful experience 

that later turned to a happy moment.

What lesson do you draw from this experience?


SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2017,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail:; Website:

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