Witnesses to Hope
May 26, 2022 (readings)
- Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest
- Teresa Williams
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.”
Opening Prayer: My Jesus, help me to silence the clamor of my thoughts, worries, and preoccupations as I enter into my heart to encounter you. May your words find fertile soil in my heart where they might germinate and grow, bringing forth fruits of an ever-increasing faith, hope, and love. Even when your words find resistance in the brokenness of my mind and heart, I want to offer you my humble desire to be transformed by you.
A Little While and You Will No Longer See Me: Jesus addressed these words to his Apostles in immediate reference to his impending death and Resurrection. They were about to experience the greatest sorrow of their lives: the loss of their teacher, friend, and master; the one they had come to believe was the Savior of the world. They were to question everything that they had come to hold as true. All of their hopes and beliefs were to be shaken to the core under the shadow of the cross. For a short time, they were to be capable only of utter desolation, disillusion, and anger with themselves and those who had perpetrated Jesus’ crucifixion. Perhaps they were even angry with Jesus himself, who apparently had let them down, betraying them and betraying the hope they had placed in him. How often in our own lives have we felt that Jesus is hidden from sight, dashing our hope in him and in his promises?
Again a Little While Later and You Will See Me: Time and again, Jesus announced to his Apostles that his suffering and death would not be the end. He would be taken from them for a short time, but afterward, he would rise and be restored to them in glory. Death would not have the final word. Yet in the face of tremendous suffering, human nature can become blinded. Our eyes see only darkness, which seems to swallow up every present and future possibility of light. The truth of the darkness that envelops us takes on absolute proportions, acquiring greater weight even than God’s promises. During these times, we would be wise to do as Psalm 46:11 recommends: “Be still and know that I am God!”
In Light of the Ascension: This coming Sunday, we celebrate the liturgical feast of the Ascension, when, forty days after his Resurrection, Jesus was once again taken from the Apostles’ sight. In the light of the Resurrection, their faith had been strengthened, and as they stood looking up to Heaven, they knew that they would, in fact, be united with him once again. They were still in need of the strength of the Holy Spirit, however, to fortify their faith and sustain them in every trial. We have been privileged to be sealed by the grace of the Holy Spirit from the time of our Baptism. While we walk in the darkness of faith, unable to enjoy Jesus’ physical presence on earth, we rest in the knowledge of the Resurrection, having received the living presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has promised that in a little while more, we will see him again, glorious in Heaven and awaiting the arrival of those who persevere in hope. In the meantime, we are called to be witnesses of hope to those whose suffering blinds them to the greater picture of the victory he has won for us.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, as I approach the feast of your Ascension, help me to dwell not so much in your physical departure as in the promise of the life that you have prepared for me. I have been privileged to be a witness to your Resurrection, and my life is called to bear its mark. Enable me to live the moments when you seem to disappear from view in the certainty of faith in your victory, and may I be able to be a witness to hope for my fellow pilgrims here on earth as we look forward to the fulfillment of all of your promises in Heaven.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reach out to someone in my life who is struggling with significant suffering, striving, even without words, to be a witness to hope.
For Further Reflection: Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II.
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