Thursday, May 5, 2016

Feast of the Ascension. A Key that Unlocks the Meaning of Life

Gospel Text: (JN 16:16-20)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“A little while and you will no longer see me,
and again a little while later and you will see me.”
So some of his disciples said to one another,
“What does this mean that he is saying to us,
‘A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me,’
and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”
So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks?
We do not know what he means.”
Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them,
“Are you discussing with one another what I said,
‘A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me’?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

In today’s gospel two conflicting ideas catch the minds and hearts of Jesus’ listeners.  “A little while” and “A little while after,”  forces the disciples to murmur among themselves.  Then they hear that they are going to lament, but then rejoice.  The writer sets up a question-and-answer tension whose resolution will come clearer in the days and weeks to come.  The big idea here is that the faith of the disciples is going to be challenged as they experience the passion of Jesus.  They have very good questions and want to know. Doesn’t everybody?

The “world” will rejoice for a “little while” as the disciples are dejected and ashamed.  The disciples will then regain their joy, but at the time of their hearing these words, they want to know now!  And they want to know definitely!   Jesus is not playing a word-game with His little community.  He is preparing them to face gracefully their human desire for clarity and comfort.  They hear about how everything is going to turn out for their best interests, but that seems more a promise than an absolutely confirmed prediction.

There are no answers to the questions about our futures. Everything seems a “little while” within which we want clarity and the security of answers.  Even when answers arrive, they lead only to further future knockings.   The “little while” for these disciples ended in the “rejoicing” of the Resurrection.  This in turn resulted in their personal invitations to go beyond the paralysis of fears to the freedom of faith. They never did and we will never, have the security which would make faith a farce.

That is why it is called FAITH!

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