by Venerable John Henry Newman
Very opposite lessons are drawn in different parts of Scripture from the doctrine of Christ's leaving the world and returning to His Father; lessons so opposite the one to the other, that at first sight a reader might even find a difficulty in reconciling them together. In an earlier season of His ministry, our Lord intimates that when He was removed, His disciples should sorrow,—that then was to be the special time for humiliation. "Can the children of the Bride-chamber mourn," He asks, "as long as the Bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast." [Matt. ix. 15.] Yet in the words following the text, spoken by Him when He was going away, 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.