Translation of the Gospel According to John
At that time. Jesus said to His disciples: A little while, and now you shall not see Me: and again a little while, and you shall see Me: because I go to the Father. Then some of His disciples said one to another: What is this that He saith to us: A little while, and you shall not see Me: and again a little while, and you shall see Me: because I go to the Father? They said therefore: What is this that He saith, A little while? We know not what He speaketh. And Jesus knew that they had a mind to ask Him. And He said to them: Of this do you inquire among yourselves, because I said: A little while, and you shall not see Me: and again a little while, and you shall see Me? Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice: and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish for joy that a man is born into the world. So also you now indeed have sorrow: but I will see you again and your heart shall rejoice: and your joy no man shall take from you.
A Message From St. Augustine’s On John: Tract CI
For I think that His words, But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you, are not to be referred to the time of His resurrection, and when He showed them His flesh to be looked at and handled; but rather to that of which He had already said, He that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” For He had already risen, He had already shown Himself to them in the flesh, and He was already sitting at the right hand of the Father, when that same Apostle John, whose Gospel this is, says in his epistle, Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” That vision belongs not to this life, but to the future; and is not temporal, but eternal. And this is life eternal, in the words of Him who is that life, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. Of this vision and knowledge the apostle says, Now we see through a glass, in a riddle; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. At present the Church is in travail with the longing for this fruit of all her labor, but then she shall bring to the birth in its actual contemplation; now she travails in birth with groaning, then shall she bring forth in joy; now she travails in birth through her prayers, then shall she bring forth in her praises. Thus, too, is it a male child; since to such fruit in the contemplation are all the duties of her present conduct to be referred. For He alone is free; because He is desired on His own account, and not in reference to aught besides. Such conduct is in His service; for whatever is done in a good spirit has a reference to Him, because it is done on His behalf; while He, on the other hand, is got and held in possession on His own account, and not on that of aught besides. And there, accordingly, we find the only end that is satisfying to ourselves. He will therefore be eternal; for no end can satisfy us, save that which is found in Him who is endless. With this was Philip inspired, when he said, Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. And in that showing the Son gave promise also of His own presence, when He said, Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? Of that, therefore, which alone sufficeth us, we are very appropriately informed, Your joy no man taketh from you.
On this point, also, in reference to what has been said above, I think we may get a still better understanding of the words, A little while, and ye shall no more see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me. For the whole of that space over which the present dispensation extends, is but a little while; and hence this same evangelist says in his epistle, It is the last hour. For in this sense also He added, Because I go to the Father, which is to be referred to the preceding clause, where He saith, A little while, and ye shall no more see me; and not to the subsequent, where He saith, And again a little while, and ye shall see me. For by His going to the Father, He was to bring it about that they should not see Him. And on this account, therefore, His words did not mean that He was about to die, and to be withdrawn from their view till His resurrection; but that He was about to go to the Father, which He did after His resurrection, and when, after holding intercourse with them for forty days, He ascended into heaven. He therefore addressed the words, A little while, and ye shall no more see me, to those who saw Him at the time in bodily form; because He was about to go to the Father, and never thereafter to be seen in that mortal state wherein they now beheld Him when so addressing them. But the words that He added, And again a little while, and ye shall see me, He gave as a promise to the Church universal: just as to it, also, He gave the other promise, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise: a little while, and we shall see Him, where we shall have no more any requests to make, any questions to put; for nothing shall remain to be desired, nothing lie hid to be inquired about. This little while appears long to us, because it is still in continuance; when it is over, we shall then feel what a little while it was. Let not, then, our joy be like that of the world, whereof it is said, But the world shall rejoice; and yet let not our sorrow in travailing in birth with such a desire be unmingled with joy; but, as the apostle says, be rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation; for even the woman in travail, to whom we are compared, has herself more joy over the offspring that is soon to be, than sorrow over her present pains. But let us here close our present discourse, for the words that follow contain a very trying question, and must not be unduly curtailed, so that they may, if the Lord will, obtain a more befitting explanation.