Easter 6th Week, Friday, May 22

Acts 18:9-18 / John 16:20-23
Jesus speaks about the future: “Your grief will become joy.”

A 13-year-old girl had just died of leukemia; While going through her belongings, her parents found a poem that she had written several months before her death. It confirms in a beautiful way what Jesus says in today’s gospel: She wrote: “0 God, I’m Free! Valleys are green, And the sun shines Through the storm and tempest.
 Your hand came through the dark, A faint spark; but it lit my soul. My fire is burning, Lord. No one can put it out. My God, I am Free!” Mission magazine
Do we really believe that God will someday turn our grief into joy? “0 Lord, may the end of my life be the best of it. May my closing acts be my best acts.”    Prayer of a Kurdish mystic
No one can ever say that they don't have any difficulties and struggles in life. Nor can anyone ever say that they never had any experiences of difficulties and struggles in life. Of course, our natural inclination is to try to avoid difficulties and struggles and we will even pray that God spare us of the hardships of life. Because what we desire is comfort and pleasure, and that there will be no weeping or sorrow.

But if life is really going to as such, then we will not need the help of God because what would we need His help for? St. Paul knew what hardship is about. The Lord had said this of him: I myself will show him how much he himself must suffer for my name (Acts 9:16)

In the 1st reading, we heard that the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced. I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you.

It could be that Paul was worn out by the challenges and persecutions against him and he was feeling wearied and run down.
But he was rewarded with this vision from the Lord and from it he got the strength and encouragement to carry on the mission of the Lord.

His sorrow had turned to joy. He suffered but now he was strengthened. He only needed to feel that the Lord was with him, and nothing else matters.

So where sufferings abound, let us believe that blessings abound all the more. It is in suffering that the Lord will let us have an experience of His presence. And with that we won't be afraid of difficulties and struggles.
Friday, Easter 6 - Liturgy

Jesus was going to pass through his passion and death on the way to the joy of his resurrection. In him, a new risen and glorious life would be born from his sufferings. The disciples would have to pass through the pains of separation from Jesus, and so there came the uncertainty of their faith as it would be violently tested, to give birth to a renewed faith and a new presence of the Lord. Similarly, the Church has to constantly pass through the childbirth of renewal, to return again and again to Christ and to the heart of his Gospel, so as to be more authentically Christ to the world today. Pain is a childbirth, delivery—literally, a liberation—opening the way to new life and joy.

Penitential Rite:
-"Do not be afraid, Says the Lord, for I am with you.
-you will be sad, but your sadness will turn into gladness, says the Lord.
-whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you, says the Lord

Opening Prayer
Lord God, merciful Father, it is hard for us to accept pain, for we know that you have made us for happiness and joy.
When suffering challenges us with a provocative “why me?” help us to discover the depth of our inner freedom and love and of all the faith and loyalty of which we are capable, together with, and by the power of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

General Intercessions
–    May the Holy Spirit give us peace and serenity in times of pain and trial, for God has made us for joy and happiness, we pray:
–    May the Spirit give us the wisdom and strength to let suffering and contradiction help us grow in the likeness of Christ, we pray:
–    May the Spirit keep us anchored in faith and joy when we are groping in the dark of misunderstanding and loneliness, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, loving Father, we share in this Eucharist in the saving death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Give us your Son as the bread of life, that by the strength of his Spirit, we may face pain and suffering without revolt or refusal. Let it be for us too, the liberating pain of birth for new life and fresh joy that will last forever.

Prayer after Communion
Lord God, loyal Father, you do not ask from us the impossible and we know that you love us.  Help us to accept the realities of life and the demands of loyalty and love with the strength of your Son.  Give us the courage not to refuse the pains of renewal in Christ and in his Gospel, that our hearts may be full of joy that can never be taken away, for your Son is our Lord forever.