Let us rejoice that we belong to Christ.
We commemorated the feast of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus. For forty days, He revealed Himself to His disciples and other brothers and sisters, completing His teaching, which He had taught the apostles and the crowds for three years before His passion. The hearts of the apostles often burned as they listened to the words of Jesus. They rejoiced that Jesus was their companion, so let us not be surprised when Jesus, by His going to the Father, disappeared from their sight that a bit of fear entered their hearts for a moment. That is why Jesus had already spoken words of encouragement and comfort to them during their encounters on earth:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, and the world will rejoice. You will mourn, but your mourning will be turned into joy” (Jn 16:20).
The sorrow of the disciples at Jesus’ departure will be transformed into joy by the action of the Holy Spirit, who will make them know through faith that the bodily absence of Jesus is replaced by his mysterious presence in the Sacrament of the Altar, in his Word, and that always means and everywhere where his teachings will be read and explained, but also in the community of believers who have received baptism: “For where two or three are joined in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).
The sadness and desolation of the apostles were short-lived. Once Jesus told them that they would not see Him for a while. He was referring to his death. Then they would see him again, referring to the time after his resurrection until his ascension. We can understand such a time – a bit longer – about the new Church when the Lord Jesus will be present in it in mysterious ways until His second coming into this world. The apostles did not dare ask the Lord Jesus what “yet a little while” meant.
For many people, even today, this is a current problem. They try to find out, calculate, and speculate about the second coming of the Lord Jesus into the world. After all, the Lord Jesus said that neither the angels nor the Virgin Mary knew about the day when He would come. The problem of whether the Lord Jesus has gone definitively does not concern us because we are convinced of the presence of the Lord Jesus among us by the teachings of the Church. Jesus is still present among us. It is enough if we understand participation in the Holy Mass correctly. To accept the Church’s teaching on the sacraments and follow the Church’s intention in reading Sacred Scripture.
The process of how the sorrow of the Apostles quickly turns to joy is likened by the Lord Jesus to a woman giving birth. When the child is already in the world, the woman soon forgets the pains she has had to endure. A mother’s love far outweighs all pain. So it is with the apostles who quickly forget their sorrow when they are convinced that Jesus is alive and forms one communion with them. They are no longer troubled, insecure apostles but become new people after receiving the Holy Spirit.
We, too, are seized with sorrow when we do not see the Lord Jesus. It is even more complicated when we are overwhelmed by inner turmoil, insecurity, dryness, prayers without any joy, and Holy Communion without a sense of enrichment. So, it is those moments of encountering Jesus when we do not feel him, and he seems far away. In such difficult moments of life, let us remember that we must have confidence and courage. It is good to have a spiritual guide, preferably a confessor, close to us at such times and be guided by him, or even to realize that even if we do not feel the joy of the presence of the Lord Jesus, he is still there.
An incident in the life of St. Teresa, who often puts herself in the role of the ball, can be a lesson for us. She offered herself to the Lord Jesus that she would wait for that moment if He wanted to play with her. But even if she put it away in a corner as unnecessary, she would wait for the moment to come when He would take it in His hands again. This saint must have experienced much in her life, even though she died young.
Once, after such a difficult trial, when for several weeks she had not had the joy of meeting the Lord Jesus and complaining to Him about where He had been all this time, she received the answer in her heart, “Teresa, I have been in your heart. And I was so glad that you were looking for me. I was happy for you.”
This means, brothers and sisters, that we do not have to worry after the departure of the Lord Jesus. He is still present among us, even when our eyes cannot see Him. He is here. He wants us to remain faithful to Him even in trouble.
The forty-day period when the apostles met with the risen Christ has ended.
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