Just a Little While

John 16: 16-20
Acts 18:1-8 / Psa 98

A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.
(John 16:16)

This life is but a passing time,
Endure the pains, the grief, the toil;
Take hope that in a little while
Our Lord will turn our tears to joy.

(Jesus said), “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so He said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” (John 16: 16-20)

Reflection

The poor apostles must have been so confounded by all these mysterious things that they were hearing from the Lord – first, how they would be persecuted and even killed by people “who didn’t know the Father” (Jn.16:2-3); then about an Advocate or Counselor, the “Spirit of Truth” who would come after Him (16:13). And where was He going anyway? Weren’t they supposed to see the fulfillment of His mission as Israel’s Messiah when they entered Jerusalem? What did this disappearing and appearing again after a little while mean?

Of course we all know what Jesus meant. He was simply predicting His death and eventual resurrection. As He told them earlier, “I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you” (16:4). Indeed, when He came back from the grave they would remember His words, and then were filled with rejoicing. “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (16:20). Everything that Jesus told them would come back to them, and these would fortify their faith and embolden them for the mission of spreading the Gospel and building His Church on earth.

Our Lord’s simple message to us in this Gospel today is: It may take a little while before our prayers are answered, or they may not be answered at all (the way we want it), but God wants us to trust Him, that no matter how long it takes, in the end it will work out for the best. After all, He knows far, far better than we do what is good for us, and developing our patience is part of His “pruning” to make us grow and become fruitful Christians.

At times God’s mysterious plans may become clear to us in unexpected ways. A couple close to us had been suffering because of their problem with their youngest son, whom they finally confirmed to be addicted to metamphetamines (shabu). We promised them that we would offer a nine-day novena for the success of their son’s rehabilitation. We must have forgotten that this couple did not share our kind of devotion and faith in prayers, but after their son successfully completed his rehabilitation, we noticed a great change in their family. They had become more prayerful, and closer to each other. Their transformation also helped deepen our own belief in the power of intercessory prayers.

Teach us, o Lord, to be patient and trusting, and to leave everything to You when our problems seem to have become insurmountable. Thank You for the many times You proved to us that we are such “men of little faith.” We acknowledge that our faith journey is still a long way to go, but we put our full trust in You that in the end our life will be victorious. Amen.

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