Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:1-8 + John 16:16-20
May 5, 2016
“What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks?”
As the Gospel Reading at Mass throughout Easter comes from St. John’s Gospel account, there must be an aptness, a fittingness, between these two: between the Easter Season and the Johannine Gospel. So then we have a question to ponder: what are the traits of John that make it apt for proclamation throughout the course of Easter? Many traits of John distinguish it from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Consider just two.
St. John the Evangelist highlights the use of double meanings. These can cause confusion in different ways. For example, when Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be “born from above”, Nicodemus takes the phrase to mean being “born again” [Jn 3:1-21].
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus uses the phrase “a little while” to refer to His being not seen and later seen again. What is Jesus referring to here? Today’s Gospel passage comes from the sixteenth chapter of John, part of Jesus’ Last Supper discourses. Jesus here is most plainly referring to His Death and Resurrection. However, there is also a second meaning. Jesus is referring to His Ascension, and what follows. But how will Jesus be seen after His Ascension?
Consider a second trait of St. John’s Gospel account: namely, that it is intensely Eucharistic. Each of the Gospel accounts focuses on the Eucharist in its own manner. But only John gives us five chapters—13 through 17—that narrate the works and words of Jesus at the Last Supper. And that’s not even to mention John 6!
After His Ascension, Jesus’ disciples no longer see Him. But a little while later, through the Descent of the Holy Spirit and the ministry of the Apostles, Jesus’ disciples behold Him again in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Yet the Lamb of God’s Supper in Holy Mass is a only sacramental foretaste of the banquet that His faithful behold eternally in the Beatific Vision.