(but you cannot bear it now)
June 16, 2019
Jesus knows his time on earth is growing short in this Sunday’s gospel (John 16:12-16). He must communicate the essentials of his teaching to his disciples before he goes. Then Jesus says: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
What does Jesus mean by this?
First of all, this is how the Lord taught the disciples from the beginning. When Jesus called Peter and the other disciples to leave everything and follow him, he made it sound very appealing. The disciples would witness miracles and work a few themselves; they would be left spellbound by his teaching. But notice what Jesus does not say: “Come follow me and you will be crucified like I will be!” If the disciples had heard this, they would have run for the hills. No, first they had to learn to love Jesus, before they would be ready to hear the language of sacrifice!
This is true for us as well. When a couple gets married, they really have no idea what the future holds for them. There is talk of dreams and plans and hopes, not pain and suffering! Imagine how the couple would react if they were told on their wedding day some of the sufferings they might have to go through together. Thank goodness we don’t know everything right away! The time of testing comes for all relationships, whether it is one in marriage or with our Lord, and if we have grown in real sacrificial love we will be ready to accept these challenges and sufferings, even though we were not told them in advance.
I once heard Mother Angelica speak at a conference about founding EWTN and the seemingly impossible situations she often found herself in while trying to do the will of God. No one even knew who she was back then. Yet, she told us she felt the call to found a satellite TV network, but how to actually do it required daily acts of faith and quite a few failures along the way. She said something I have never forgotten: God usually reveals to us the path we are to follow one step at a time, because if we saw the whole journey all at once and all the sufferings that would be asked of us, we would never take that first step!
To answer a call to the priesthood or marriage or anything else that requires a sacrifice, we have to have a vision in our hearts and stars in our eyes. Our relationship with the Lord is like this too: Jesus does not reveal his secrets all at once. Like a good friend, he takes his time. Sometimes he asks very tough things of us, or perhaps the circumstances of life cause us to question God’s care or even his existence. These moments of great testing came for the disciples; they come in marriages; they come in the priesthood; they come for us all. This is why Jesus does not reveal everything all at once. He hopes we will grow in our love for him and in our friendship with God, so that when the time of testing comes we will make it through to the end.