May 18, Thursday of the 6th Week of Easter
Daily Readings: Acts 18:1-8; Gospel: John 16:16-20
What a troubling conversation! After washing their feet, Jesus tells his disciples he will soon be returning to his Father (John 14:12; 16:10). Knowing their concerns, he then reassures them, "A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me" (16:16) The disciples can't make sense of it and ask each other, "What does this mean?" (16:17).
Of course, we know what Jesus means. He was telling his disciples that he would die and that they would no longer see him. He also encouraged them that they would see him again when he rose from the dead. But the disciples were anxious; they could only hear that Jesus was going away.
Haven't we experienced this? Sometimes, we feel close to the Lord and confident that we're on the right path. We see Him. But at other times, like the disciples, we can't see the Lord. He seems distant, and our hearts grow troubled.
This shouldn't surprise us. This pattern of "seeing and not seeing Jesus" is a normal part of the Christian life. Even the saints experienced it! Ignatius of Loyola, for instance, called these states consolation and desolation. When we see Jesus in prayer and are aware of his presence and goodness, we experience consolation. When we don't see him and our communion with him feels empty or even lost, we experience desolation. We may alternate between a sense of peace and closeness and feelings of worry and dryness on the same day. But what can we do during a dry "season"?
First, keep showing up! It opens your heart to God's grace. "Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort." (CCC, 2725). Moreover, God continually pours out grace, whether you feel it or not.
Second, remember why you are there. As St. Alphonsus Liguori reminds us, "Whenever you feel tempted to stop praying because it seems to be a waste of time," you can say, "I am here to please God." Every prayer pleases him. Finally, cling to Jesus. He loves you and will never leave you.
So put your hope in Jesus' faithfulness. It may take time, but he promises, "Your grief will become joy" (John 16:20).
"My soul waits for you, O Lord."
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