"A little while, and ye shall not see me; and again a little
while and ye shall see me."
On this Sunday, the risen Lord is once again presented to us as the
hope of believers, while we look more explicitly towards the sending of
the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, on the Day of Pentecost. "Yet a little
while and ye shall see me," Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper.
Little did they know that he was speaking on different levels--on the one
hand he was going to leave them for a short time in death, his lifeless
body in the tomb, his soul in hell. But on the third day he would
rise from the dead, and they would see him again. He would be among
them in his risen body for forty days, and, ascending to heaven, would
leave them again. But, as he had promised, he would not "leave them
comfortless" (John 14.18) but would send "another comforter". And
again, on another and even more profound level, it is but a "little while"
until Jesus returns, in his glorious body, to judge the quick and the dead.
"It is not," says St. Augustine, "that the Lord delayeth his promise; a
little while, and we shall see him, at that time when we shall have no
more to pray for, no more to inquire after; because nothing will remain
to be desired, nothing hidden to be learned. This little while appears
to us long, because it is still passing; when it shall have come to an
end, then we shall perceive how it hath been for a little while."
It should be a comfort, and not a cause of fear, that Jesus promises
us that it will be but a little while and we shall see him. The affliction
that we bear, and which is, as was pointed out last week, a necessary part
of our sanctification, is but for a little while. It is but for a
little while in the sense that human life is relatively short, and in the
sense that Jesus may come at any time as Judge. But it is but a little
while also in the sense that in the midst of our struggles, Jesus will
come to help us during our earthly pilgrimage. The word which is
used in our Bibles of the Holy Ghost, "Comforter," is also sometimes simply
transliterated, "Paraclete," which means literally "one who is called to
help." It is but a little while until Jesus comes because he is ever
close by, waiting for our call to assist us in our struggle to be holy.