Probably most adults will have vivid memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. That gigantic concrete-and – barbed wire edifice partitioned West Berlin from East Berlin and stood as a symbol of the Cold War era from its construction in 1961. Although built by the East German government ostensibly to prevent spies from the West coming into the East to undermine the socialist system there, in truth it was built primarily to stop the haemorraging of people from the Eastern bloc into the West. In 1989, as a result of the thawing of relations between the West and the Soviet Empire, the East German government gave permission for its citizens to cross over to the West once more. Many streamed through the Brandenburg gate to meet up with relatives they had not been able to see for decades, others took picks and shovels and began tearing down the Berlin Wall.
One can imagine the emotions of those in the East coming out from “exile” into freedom. It matches the feelings of the people of Israel as they were freed from slavery and exile in Babylon in 520 B.C. and allowed to return to their homeland. Our psalm today, psalm 126, captures the tumult of emotions of those people. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion (i.e. brought us out of bondage) we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.” What had seemed impossible had happened. In my time, growing up in the shadow of the Berlin Wall and the Cold War, I never thought I would see the day the Wall came down, or the disintegration of the huge Soviet Empire into a series of independent countries, whose previous dictator regimes toppled over, one by one, like a pack of dominoes.
The people of Israel came to see their time of exile as a time of “sowing in tears” preparatory to being able to “reap in joy.” If we are facing huge obstacles in our lives that seem impossible to overcome, let us remember the words of Jesus from the gospel two weekends away “For mortals this is impossible, but not for God. For God all things are possible.” Let us learn to place our trust in God’s greatness and goodness, and see our present sufferings, as St Paul says in Romans 8,”as nothing compared to the weight of glory to come.” And also see our present tears as part of the process of sowing into a future harvest of blessings to come.