Fr. Mike’s homily for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Theme: “A little while”
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily for Thursday May 13 2021
John 16:16 -20
“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.”
“A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” This statement of Jesus baffled the disciples no less. Is He making fun of them by playing some sort of peek-a-boo? But the Lord is serious, for He is talking about the most important moment of His earthly life. He is actually predicting His forthcoming suffering and death and His resurrection.
In “a little while” Jesus will disappear from their sight because He will die and be buried in the tomb. But then, He assured them that “a little while later”, they will see Him again because on the third day He will certainly rise from the tomb, completely alive and victorious over sin and death.
At the outset, Jesus gives them a warning: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve.” His death and burial will cause great pain and sorrow. They will be overwhelmed with grief while the ‘world’, the enemies of God, will rejoice exultantly, thinking they have won a decisive victory.
But He promptly assures them that this period of sorrow is only for “a little while”. Hence, the disciples should not lose heart. In fact, He told them, “your grief will become joy.” When Jesus rises from the dead, they will forget all the pain and sorrow for they will be filled with joy at His resurrection and final victory.
We can resonate with the experience and feelings of the disciples. There are times in our life that we think that God is nowhere in sight, and we feel He has abandoned us. But actually, it is not God who is away. He never leaves us. We are the ones who, because of our persistence in sin and our obsession for worldly ambitions, choose to be away from Him. So, in His eternal wisdom, God allows us to feel the pain of His “absence” that we may comprehend the evil of sin and promptly return to Him. It is during these times of seeming absence of God that we experience grief and sorrow.
As long as we enjoy worldly success and pleasures, it is so easy to forget God. The grief and sorrow help us to realize the pain of being away from God. There is only one way to put an end to this miserable situation, and that is by repentance and conversion. Being reconciled, then, with the Lord fills us with true joy and peace. This, therefore, is the meaning of sorrow being turned into joy.
There are also times when the cross seems so heavy to bear and the Lord so distant from us. On the contrary, it is precisely during these times that Jesus is with us. In our sufferings, we are given the privilege of being united with Jesus in His own sufferings for the salvation of mankind. Then, our sufferings become meaningful and even the source of our joy. The important thing is that we are always with Jesus. As St. Paul assures us in his second Letter to Timothy, “if we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we persevere, we shall also reign with him” (2Tim 2:11).
A poem by Caryll Houselander entitled “The Kiss of Christ”, captures this lesson:
There He hangs — pale figure pinned against the wood.
God grant that I could love Him as I really know I should.
I draw a little closer to share that love Divine
And almost hear Him whisper, “Ah foolish child of Mine!
If I should now embrace you,
My hands would stain you red.
And if I leaned to whisper,
The thorns would pierce your head.”
And then I knew in silence that love demands a price
‘Twas then I learned that suffering is but the kiss of Christ.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches