Home      Back to Easter 3




The Third Sunday after Easter
excerpt from
COMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 3: Easter to Pentecost (p. 36)
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
"A little while, and ye shall not see me; and again a little while and ye shall see me." 
(John 16.16)

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.