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Waiting for the Ticket

Fr. George Smiga
May 26, 21013
John 16:12-15

Doesn’t it drive you crazy when someone comes up to you and says, “Oh I’ve heard such terrible news. It’s so sad. But I can’t tell you what it is, because I promised I would say nothing.”  I hate that! I just want tell the person, “Why did you bring it up at all, if you can’t tell me what it is?”

At first, it might seem that Jesus is adopting this frustrating practice in today’s gospel. He tells the disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” You can imagine the disciples saying, “If you can’t tell us now, why did you even bring it up?” But Jesus does not speak in this way to frustrate the disciples. His words are not meant to worry us about the things to come but rather to assure us that whatever comes, he will be there to help us.

No matter what age we are, we know that there will be challenges to come: a new school, the loss of a friend, a mistake that we make as parents, a serious illness, the death of someone we love. As we imagine these challenges approaching, as we watch other people dealing with them, our first reaction is: “I don’t have the strength to face that. There is no way I will be able to cope, if those things happen to me.” It is then that we must trust in the Lord. Jesus tells us, “You do not even know what is going to happen, but I do. I am already taking steps so that when the challenges in your life come, you will have the resources to deal with them.”

In her classic book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom tells of an experience that happened to her when she was 8 years old, just before the Second World War.  A family in her neighborhood experienced the tragic crib death of a three-month old child. Corrie went with her mother to pay respects. As her mother spoke to the grieving parents, Corrie approached the crib in which the dead child lay. She reached out her hand and touched him. He was cold. For the first time in her life, Corrie had touched death. That coldness entered her heart.  It followed her home. That evening she could not fall asleep, and she began to cry.

Her father heard her and came into her room. “Corrie,” he said, “what’s the matter.” “I touched the dead child today and I know that death is real. I know that one day it will come and take you and momma from me. I can’t face that. I will never be strong enough to let you go.” “Oh, I see,” said the father.

Then he thought for a while. “Corrie,” he said, “when we take the train to Amsterdam, do I give you your ticket while we are at home?” “No,” she said. “When do I give you the ticket?” “You give it to me just before we climb on the train, because you are afraid that if you give it earlier I will lose it.”  “Exactly,” said her father. “You need to know that your heavenly father is much wiser than I am. Today, you do not have the strength to face the challenges to come. But when the day comes on which you must take that ride of loss, or pain, or even death, your ticket will be ready. Your heavenly father has already bought it and is holding it for you. It will be there when you need it.”

We all want to hold our ticket in our hand. We want to know that we have the strength today to face whatever will come. But we do not even know what we will have to face. God does. And God has already prepared a way for us to address the difficulties ahead. That is why we must entrust our future to God’s care, believing that God will never abandon us. We trust that when we must face loss, pain or death, then the ticket will be placed in our hand.

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