”A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”
They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’?
Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
My mother has six grandchildren, ages six and under, who are always asking her questions: “When can I have a snack?” “When can I go swimming?” “When can I come out of timeout?” “When’s my birthday?” Her response is always the same – “soon.” I laughed the first time I heard her say this to the grandchild who wanted a snack at 7:30 a.m.. My mom’s response was, “it doesn’t matter if I say 15 minutes, 5 hours, or a month and a half, ‘soon’ satisfies.” “Soon” is not now, but it’s not never, it’s just soon.
In today’s Gospel, the disciples struggle to understand what Jesus means by “a little while.” Much like “soon,” a little while indicates that we will need to wait, but it also implies inevitability. Jesus does not answer his disciples when “they said, ‘What does he mean by this “a little while”?” because there is a difference between God’s “little while” and our “little while.” Especially when we are weeping and mourning, God’s “little while” can seem like a very long while. This is where we are invited to trust God. We trust that our “pain will turn into joy”… soon.
—Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
—Excerpt from Patient Trust by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
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