Skip to comments.“Just a Little While Longer” – A Meditation on the Brevity and Urgency of Life
Posted on 05/11/2018 8:39:23 AM PDT by Salvation
There is a passage in John 16 that is unusual for its repetition. This past Sunday it was the assigned Gospel in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The expression in a little while is repeated seven times in the brief passage. In fact, its repetition is almost to the point of being annoying, such that the reader is tempted to say, Alright, already! I get it! In a little while! But obviously John, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit want to drill this into us. The little while of this passage is seemingly a critical perspective for us to lay hold of.
Lets look at the whole passage:
Jesus went on to say, In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me. At this, some of his disciples said to one another, What does he mean by saying, In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me, and Because I am going to the Father? They kept asking, What does he mean by a little while? We dont understand what he is saying. Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy (John 16:16-22).
OK, do you get it? A little while! Clearly this text is a perfect illustration of the old expression repetitio mater studiorum (repetition is the mother of studies). A little while x 7. Obviously were supposed to lay hold of this; obviously it was significant to the Lord.
The Greek word translated here as a little while is even more evocative of brevity. It is μικρὸν (mikron), which at least in its English connotation, speaks of something very little.
Contextually, the Lord seems to be referring to the brief time between his death and resurrection. And indeed that time was brief. He was trying to prepare his disciples (in the hope?) that they might not lose faith and would be able to endure the passion. But it seems these and other words promising his resurrection in a little while (on the third day) had no real impact on them. All but John fled in fear, and all of them were astonished and incredulous at the resurrection when it first broke in to their reality.
But in a more extended and pastoral context, the words of Jesus are also intended for us. He wants us to grasp that in a little while we will see him.
This for us is a very important perspective to gain: life is short! And this truth is both consoling and challenging for us.
It is consoling because whatever pain we are going through we need to remember that we are going through it; if we are faithful, it is not our destination. And whatever the current difficulties, they will be over in a little while. An old African American Spiritual says, Hold on just a little longer, everythings gonna be alright. Another old spiritual says, Trouble dont last always. As most of us who are a bit older know, life passes quickly so very quickly. And whatever our troubles, they will be over in a little while. And if we have been faithful, eternity dawns with far great glories than the trouble we have endured for just a little while.
We ought to expect that life here will be a little uncomfortable. We live in paradise lost. We live in a fallen world, governed by a fallen angel, and we have fallen natures. We who are baptized now live in this world as strangers and aliens. Were just passing through a world with strange customs and a strange language. Were living out of a suitcase and have all the discomforts of travel. But in a little, while we get to go homeif we but hold to Gods unchanging hand.
Scripture speaks often of this aspect.
And thus we ought to be consoled by this perspective that, whatever difficulties youre currently going through, stay faithful. It will be over in a little while. And meanwhile it is producing and storing up glory for you.
It is also challenging to consider the little while of this life. Simply put, you are going to die and you dont get to say when. You are not promised even the next beat of your heart. Tomorrow is not promised, so youd better choose the Lord today. Do not delay your conversion to the Lord.
Life passes very swiftly. I am celebrating my 29th anniversary as a priest this year. Wow, how did that happen? I feel like I just got out of high school! Life goes so quickly. Scripture says,
Yes, life passes quickly and for most of us, the memory of our existence will linger but a generation here on earth.
But here comes the challenge. Life is short prepare for judgment. Scripture says,
Jesus also warns:
Yes, life is short. And, in a little while we must all report to the judgment seat of Christ for a very honest conversation. Prepare confidently with faith, but not presumption, which is a denial of the faith. The Lord has said that we must be sober, awake, and ready. In just a little while the moment will come. You will die, and you dont get to say when. Get ready.
There it is perspective. The consolation is that the troubles of this life pass in a little while. The challenge is to be ready, for in just a little while our time here is up and the question is called.
In a little while!
He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming SOON. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20)
Monsignor Pope Ping!