The Gospel according to 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.”
Reflection: Let’s see if you have ever done this or have seen it done. As a father of four and grandfather of six I have done it hundreds of times. This activity works best with infants and toddlers. It’s hide and seek without stepping away from each other. You simply hide your face behind your hands then spread them apart and say peek-a-boo. You can usually get a glimpse of the child, through your fingers, looking a bit bewildered then burst out in a laugh or big smile when you reveal yourself. So much joy and grace exchanged between two souls with a simple game.
In today’s gospel Jesus may be engaged in an adult version of this activity. He says they will not see him then they will. Jesus is speaking of his death, resurrection, accension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. I grin knowing I benefit from a modern perspective. I say this because I don’t want to be too harsh on our brothers, the apostles, as they struggle with understanding what Jesus tells them. I would struggle too. Jesus knows his mission on earth is coming to its great conclusion. All his time and effort to prepare his closest followers for the shock of the brutal end but glorious result of his death and resurrection are at hand. Jesus also knows how they will be tested. His friends will suffer, fall many times, but will ultimately triumph as well.
Let’s you and I hold on to the words at the end of today’s gospel, “but your grief will become joy.” We are often separated from the grace of God through our own repeated falls. Yet unlike the game of peek-a-boo I talked about earlier, we are the ones who cover our faces and block the loving, merciful gaze of Jesus. A sincere and repentant heart prompts us to remove our hands from in front of us so we can see the tender smile that reminds us we are beloved children of Our Father. Our suffering becomes joy knowing how much we are loved.
Action of the day: Pray an Our Father today and imagine our Lord stading in front of you. Think about the many times throught the day when you missed seeing him for whatever reason. But also spend time thinking about when you did. May this game of peek-a-boo we play all day lead us to the beautiful reality of how much God loves us!