“Soon you won’t be able to see me; soon after that, you will see me.”
Some of Jesus’ disciples said to each other, “What does he mean: ‘Soon you won’t see me, and soon after that you will see me’ and ‘Because I’m going to the Father’? What does he mean by ‘soon’? We don’t understand what he’s talking about.”
Jesus knew they wanted to ask him, so he said, “Are you trying to find out from each other what I meant when I said, ‘Soon you won’t see me, and soon after that you will see me’? I assure you that you will cry and lament, and the world will be happy. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman gives birth, she has pain because her time has come. But when the child is born, she no longer remembers her distress because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. In the same way, you have sorrow now; but I will see you again, and you will be overjoyed. No one takes away your joy. In that day, you won’t ask me anything. I assure you that the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Up to now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive so that your joy will be complete.
“I’ve been using figures of speech with you. The time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in such analogies. Instead, I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I’m not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and believed that I came from God. I left the Father and came into the world. I tell you again: I am leaving the world and returning to the Father.”
His disciples said, “See! Now you speak plainly; you aren’t using figures of speech. Now we know that you know everything and you don’t need anyone to ask you. Because of this we believe you have come from God.”
Jesus replied, “Now you believe? Look! A time is coming—and is here!—when each of you will be scattered to your own homes and you will leave me alone. I’m not really alone, for the Father is with me. I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.”
Looking through the old shoebox, she found some old letters. The pages were yellow with age. They were from her Great-Grandfather to her Great-Grandmother. She was struck by his beautiful penmanship. She wondered why no one wrote letters anymore.
“I suppose they have email and texting now,” she said a little melancholy.
The first letter she read was just a quick note about where was during the war. How he missed a warm bed and a hot meal. How he missed her but knew it would be a long time before he would see her again.
The next letter she read was more personal. Deeply personal. She felt embarrassed to read it. There was nothing vulgar in it but the longing and love expressed made her feel like she was encroaching on something sacred.
And she was.
She folded up the letter and put it back in the shoebox as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
When I read some of the passages in the New Testament, I feel like the young woman in that story. These passages we’ve been reading this week fit into that category. Over and over again, Jesus has been telling his closest friends that he was going to die soon. His absence, like the death of anyone we love, would be hard on them. And although he’s promised to send The Advocate to be with them, they would still be extremely sorrowful and afraid.
But not the “normal” type of fear. The fear a Mother would have about to give birth to her child. The fear of not really knowing what to expect. But all of that fear and pain is washed away the moment she holds her newborn child. All of it was worth it.
That’s what he’s telling them. There will be a time of deep sorrow and fear. But, it will be only a short time. The joy they will have when they see Jesus again will be more than they imagined. All of the fear and sorrow will melt away once they see him again.
Jesus is telling them all of this ahead of time so that when it happens, they’ll know and remember. When the “world” rages against them, when their own family members turn their backs on them, when they turn them over to the authorities, they will be at peace because Jesus conquered the “world.”
See, even the “world” of first century Judaism only has death as it’s ultimate weapon. And Jesus has warned his friends that violence and death will be used against them. But, death doesn’t stop Love. Love triumphs over death. In fact, Love uses death to give birth to life. So, he tells them, don’t be afraid of the “world” and it’s ultimate weapon of torture and death. Because the resurrection trumps even that.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC