I am going to the Father (Jn 16:16-24)
Jesus, in his farewell speech to his chosen disciples, was narrating to them regarding the great mysteries that were going to be revealed soon. Until then, the disciples remain in the dark. They do not understand the meaning of Jesus’ words that “A little while, and then you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me. For I am going to the Father”. Knowing well the ignorance of the apostles regarding ‘his disappearance for a while’, Jesus explains to his disciples comparing it with the state of a woman who is about to give birth to a child. “A woman, when she is giving birth, has sorrow because her hour has arrived. But when she has given birth to the child, then she no longer remembers the difficulties, because of the joy: for a man has been born into the world”. The phrase, “a little while”, has great importance in Bible; because it was this gap that turns human history into ‘Before Christ’ and ‘Anno Domini’. The gap, which becomes a period of great silence for the apostles and all who followed Jesus, suddenly turns into a meaningful one. The Resurrection becomes the foundational experience of the Apostles and human history witnesses the Revelation of God in the person of Jesus.
Jesus says that the disciples’ sorrow also would turn into joy. The disciples would be sad when they see their master being arrested, imprisoned, scourged, condemned to death, carrying the cross, crucified and buried. The gap between Jesus’ death and his Resurrection is the time of great sorrow for the disciples. They who had left everything to follow the master is now left with nothing. Their future is grim. There are utterly helpless. There is fear of the Jews on the one hand, and there is uncertainty of their own future without their master on the other. Jesus understands the plight of his disciples and he tells them that “but their sorrow would turn into joy” when they see their Risen master. ‘The world’ rejoiced for having killed the one who challenged their way of religious observance and who invited them to examine their inner person.
Going deeper into the sayings of Jesus that the woman who is giving birth would no longer remember the difficulties, can also mean that Jesus who is God himself, would no longer remember his passion for the salvation that he has achieved through his death and Resurrection. The Risen Lord who is now the Lord of the universe, won’t punish people for their offences, but rather, having taken upon himself, in his flesh, the punishment, becomes the God of mercy for all. All those who believe in him now will be saved. Jesus was now going to the Father would also mean that it would be a time of great joy for the disciples. That is the time, when the disciples would believe that Jesus indeed came from the Father and that He is truly the Son of God. Now being God, he must return to his Father. For he had said: “I and the Father are one”. The divinity of Jesus is clearly manifested in these words of Jesus and every word that is written in the Scripture, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is to proclaim to the world God’s salvific plan in and through the person of Jesus Christ, his only Son.
The Resurrection of Jesus changed the whole horizon of the apostles. They are no longer frightened disciples, but rather, have become courageous witnesses to the Risen Lord. They are no more sorrowful disciples, but rather, ready to die-disciples of Christ. They are willing to die that nothing, not even persecution, nor death, can take away their joy of having encountered the Risen Lord. As the chosen ones of the Lord, they are given the privilege to ask anything to the heavenly Father in the name of Jesus. They prayed together in the name of Jesus and God the Father sent His Spirit upon them all and they were ready to continue the mission of Christ. We are all called to continue the mission of Christ. First, we must encounter the Risen Lord in our lives, and no one will take away our joy of having encountered the Risen Lord. Amen!