He says; I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

And He says shortly before it, It is expedient for you that I go away.

And again: I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more: but ye see Me.

Thus Christ’s going to the Father is at once a source of sorrow, because it involves His absence; and of joy, because it involves His presence.

And out of the doctrine of His resurrection and ascension, spring those Christian paradoxes, often spoken of in Scripture, that we are sorrowing, yet always rejoicing; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.

This, indeed, is our state at present; we have lost Christ and we have found Him; we see Him not, yet we discern Him.

We embrace His feet, yet He says, Touch Me not.

How is this? it is thus: we have lost the sensible and conscious perception of Him;

we cannot look on Him, hear Him, converse with Him, follow Him from place to place;

but we enjoy the spiritual, immaterial, inward, mental, real sight and possession of Him;

a possession more real and more present than that which the Apostles had in the days of His flesh, because it is spiritual, because it is invisible.

We know that the closer any object of this world comes to us, the less we can contemplate it and comprehend it.

Christ has come so close to us in the Christian Church (if I may so speak), that we cannot gaze on Him or discern Him.

He enters into us, He claims and takes possession of His purchased inheritance;

He does not present Himself to us, but He takes us to Him. He makes us His members.

Our faces are, as it were, turned from Him;

we see Him not, and know not of His presence, except by faith, because He is over us and within us.

And thus we may at the same time lament because we are not conscious of His presence, as the Apostles enjoyed it before His death;

and may rejoice because we know we do possess it even more than they, according to the text,

whom having not seen (that is, with the bodily eyes) ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 6, Sermon 10. The Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Church.

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