Last week I sent a text message to someone in another state. I asked a direct question about something coming up, but I heard nothing back that day. Nor the next day, nor the next. I considered following up, but decided instead to wait. This time has been an intense one—illnesses, deaths. It was hard to read the silence, but there were lots of possible reasons. I did, however, wonder about it.
You may notice the same thing about such a silence or absence. Someone is not where you expect him or her to be—at a party, a wedding, a family gathering. You hear the buzz it generates: “Where is he?” “Does she plan to show up at all?” “Is something wrong?” People can become “noticeable by their absence.”
John’s gospel tells us that the absence of Jesus had the same effect. He was not in Jerusalem where people expected him to be. His absence brought much conversation, speculation. Those in Jerusalem were wondering if he would be there at all.
In my own life as well, there are times when it seems Jesus is absent. I too have wondered: Where is he? Will he show up? When I am facing something particularly hard, I ask him directly, “Will you walk through this with me? I can’t do it alone.”
The later gospel passages tell us that Jesus did arrive in Jerusalem. He didn’t flee or divert from the path he had chosen, no matter the cost. Based on his track record, I trust that he is with me, with all of us. Especially when times are hard.
—Mary Anne Reese is an attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from Xavier University’s theology program and belongs to St. Robert Bellarmine Parish. She is also a published poet.