Abbot Damien Toilolo, O.S.B.
In today’s Gospel (John 16:16-20) Jesus says to His disciples, “You will see me, then you won’t see me, and you will weep, but it will become joy.” What does all this mean? What happened to the plain and simple and understandable parables Jesus used to use? It’s no wonder the disciples were confused. Thankfully, we know how it all ends. So we know that Jesus was speaking about His death and resurrection.
This Gospel passage reminds us that some of the most difficult moments in our lives are when we don’t understand what God is saying to us, when we don’t know what He is doing with us or in us, or around us. Sometimes we don’t “feel” or “sense” God’s presence anywhere near us—and so we feel alone and deserted. It’s at these moments in life when we struggle with that all-important question: “Where is God? What does He want me to do?” I don’t hear Him. I don’t feel His presence near me.
Today’s Gospel is a good reminder to us that it’s our faith that gets us through life; and to remember that our faith is not in a person who sometimes keeps his promises, or who sometimes cares for us, but our faith is in a Person who always keeps his promises and who always cares for us. We may not always know what God is doing in our lives, but that’s not important. What’s most important is to know that God is IN our life….whether we feel Him or not. And God is not just present in our life, but He is working in our life….even though we may not feel Him.
Today’s Gospel drives home the point that God’s presence in our lives is not dependent upon whether we can see Him or feel Him, or whether we’ve been good or not. God’s presence in our lives—or rather God in our lives—has little to do with us, but everything to do with Him…and everything to do with His faithfulness to us; His love for us; His promise that He would never leave us nor forsake us.
God’s love for us is so great, that He created a way where He is with us always, by giving us His Holy Spirit to live inside us. What more we can ask for? What better proof can there be that God cares about us? That He has not abandoned us?
And it is this Holy Spirit who lives inside us, who gives us courage, strength, and guidance in these difficult moments in our lives. We may not see Him or feel His presence in our life, but that doesn’t mean He is not here or not working. The absence of a good feeling is just that: the absence of a good feeling. It does not equal the absence of God. It simply means it’s time for our faith to kick in. It means God is giving us another opportunity to trust Him.
May we take advantage of these times; and may the Eucharist we receive give us the grace to continue to live for God and serve him faithfully even when we can’t feel Him or understand what He may doing in our lives.