Imagine that you see our Lord taking leave of His disciples. They stand sorrowing around their Master, who is about to depart from them, and He, like a father speaking to his children for the last time, is giving them kind admonitions and addressing to them words of consolation and encouragement.
1st. Consider these words: “Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep but the world shall rejoice.”
(St. John xvi. 20.) Herein Christ expresses the vast difference that exists amongst mankind here on earth in regard to their striving after happiness. All desire happiness, all men are of one mind in proposing this as their goal; but oh how different are the ways whereby they endeavor to attain that goal! Whilst some rejoice, others mourn; whilst some seek to reach their goal by paths hedged with roses, others follow hard and thorny roads. The king in the Canticle of Canticles looks for happiness in the embraces of his beloved spouse, whereas St. Alexius, in the same search after happiness, forsakes the bride whom his parents had chosen for him. King Crcesus, revelling in his wealth, found satisfaction in gazing upon his piles of gold, whereas St. Francis was inebriated with delight when permitted to seek happiness in the mendicant’s garb. Thus it is everywhere on earth. The votaries of the world pity those who renounce what they deem joys, and the latter regard as objects of commiseration those who surrender themselves to the fascination of those joys. What is the cause of this contrast? It lies in this one word which our Lord spoke: “A little while.”
2d. The disciples said: “What is this that He saith: a little while? we know not what He speaketh.” (v. 18.) It is just the same with ourselves. Because some amongst us do not understand this saying, they do not heed it whilst others clearly comprehend its meaning. Some rejoice over the very things at which the others mourn. Oh grasp its import aright, my soul! “Again a little while.” All, everything upon earth lasts but a little while. The monarch rejoices in the possession of his bride; again a little while and all his delight is at an end, death comes and takes her from him. Alexius abandons his bride, he leaves his home and his parents; to what a wretched life he condemns himself! Yet “again a little while” and his sorrow is banished; it gives place to eternal happiness. If the world tries to captivate you by its pleasures and its joys, think of these words: “Again a little while” ; and if on the other hand the weight of suffering and trial presses on you too heavily, then again let these same words recur to your mind: “A little while.”
3d. Finally consider what our Lord said when He spoke for the third time: “Your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” No wonder if your life oftentimes seems dreary and joyless when compared to the diversions and amusements of life in the world. No wonder if sometimes you cry out with the short-sighted ones, as the author of the Imitation says: “Behold how well such a man lives, how rich he is, how great, how mighty and powerful! But fix thine eyes on heavenly goods and thou wilt see that all these temporal things are no goods at all, but are very uncertain and rather burdensome, because they are never possessed without care and fear.” (B. i. ch. 22.) So it truly is, my soul, “your sorrow shall be turned into joy, into everlasting joy.” Meditate upon this truth from our Lord’s lips; apprehend it in its full depth and meaning, and you will give God thanks that you are permitted to have sorrow here below whilst the world rejoices.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ