We’ve come to the point in the Easter season where the names of the Sundays and the Readings don’t seem to line up. Today is named “Jubilate,” from the first phrase of the Introit in Latin: Jubilate Deo omnis terra, “Shout for joy to God, all the earth.” But then in the Gospel, Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.” How do those things go together? Shout for joy—but the world is going to take delight in your misfortune. While there is sadness in this, it’s a reminder that our true rejoicing, our greatest shouting for joy is not in worldly things, but in the crucified and risen Jesus. And the joy He gives, no one can take from you.
In times of uncertainty or trial, there is a temptation to unbelief. We heard it in the Old Testament Reading when Isaiah confronts the children of Israel for their little faith, when he asks them why they say, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God.” In other words, Israel wanted to know why God was ignoring them, why it seemed He had abandoned them and left them to their own devices. And Jesus, knowing that the same temptation will exist for His disciples after His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, begins preparing them for His departure. When those same kinds of questions asked in the Old Testament are repeated by Jesus’ followers, He wants to make sure they have the right answer, that their gaze is redirected from themselves and their present trials to the joy and full consolation that is theirs by the Holy Spirit.