3rd Sunday after Easter 17.4.16 This life
They will be looking for Our Lord but they will not see Him.
This applies to us too. We do not see Him, at all, not even sometimes. It would be a lot easier for us if we could see Him; but we find other ways of coping, which are ultimately very good for us.
The absence of Our Lord, at least visible absence, makes this life seem often like a precarious and difficult walk in faith. We have faith, and we have the sacraments. And we have an abundance of miracles to draw upon to boost our faith; not to mention the inspiring example of so many saints.
Yet still, we would say that this earthly pilgrimage is a hard slog. Some familiar phrases from prayers and scripture will bear this out. This life is a valley of tears (Hail Holy Queen); from the same prayer… after this, our exile. From Psalm 22, though I walk in the valley of darkness. St Paul refers to this life as an exile, and reminds us that this is not our true home (Ph 3,20; Heb 13,14; 2 Cor 5,6).
But then, My yoke is easy, and My burden is light (Mt 11,30). This life is hard, but Our Lord makes it, if not easy, at least easier.
To note the difficulties of this life does not mean we are miserable people. It is simply acknowledging the limits on our present situation.
This world is limited by two factors:
One, that it is not the destination – only the way to reach the destination. It cannot, therefore, be as good as Heaven. This life is just a prelude to the glory of heaven. The sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us (Rom 8,18). In heaven, every tear will be wiped away (Rev 21,4).
Two, that the world is made much more miserable than it needs to be by the huge quantity of sin that goes on. This has to act on us, even having faith, as a dampener on our joy.
We are instructed along these lines: you are finding it difficult but don’t get too downcast; do not dwell on how much suffering there is, but dwell on the hope of better things to come, a certain hope. Your wait is short; the time is drawing ever closer when you will be able to experience the things you have longed for all your life; and the human race has longed for.
Be comforted by that knowledge, and may it give you the strength and the wisdom to negotiate the various sufferings you encounter.
It is a matter of perspective. We need to have an eternal perspective on the temporal now. So as we encounter each day, we will have greater depth of understanding. And much greater discipline, in terms of our behaviour.
We learn to wait, to watch and wait. We learn to live this life, with all its twists and turns, with our eyes and hearts fixed on heaven.
So even if life is drab and nothing much seems to be happening, we can still make progress by faithful attention to duty, in a spirit of hope. We are called to a lot of that kind of waiting, because it has been 2000 years, and much longer than we first expected.
We always want some sort of miracle to help us along, and they do happen, but we must master the everyday discipline as well.
A good disciple is one who does not draw attention to his own needs, but happy to be a team player; and simply fit in with whatever is required. No self-absorption, no clamour, no argument.
So there is much to be done in this earthly life, better than complaining. We note the suffering, but we use it for learning and growth, if we cannot otherwise remove it.
Let us cultivate this right understanding, and so be exactly the disciples Our Lord wants to have. Always and only with His help.