More than "Good-Bye"
As summertime unfolds for those of us in the northern hemisphere, many of us will embark upon summer vacation trips of various lengths, perhaps visiting some relatives. Some of us will move our home to a new residence; others will be on the "receiving end" of such comings and goings. In each, there is a hello…and a good-bye. Today’s Scriptures invite us: What feelings do we convey in our good-byes?
Our two scripture readings relay some famous "good-byes": the Acts of the Apostles has the apostle Paul saying good-bye to the Church at Ephesus which he had served for years. He exhorts the leaders to be faithful shepherds, humbly serving the needs of the congregation: "…keep watch…be vigilant…remember…" In John’s Gospel selection, Jesus lets us in on his final prayer for his disciples, asking God to protect them from the evils of the world and to keep them united and joyful, praying that they be consecrated to the truth of God’s Word. Truly, both readings challenge us and our human good byes.
Our good-byes can convey all sorts of feelings: comfort, reassurance, encouragement, challenge, advice, forgiveness, love. No doubt Jesus and the apostle Paul had those same feelings flowing from their hearts as they "moved on" in fulfilling God’s will in their lives. Jesus’ good-bye prayer for his disciples reveals his distinct love for us all, and becomes a framework for the love relationships in our lives.
As we say our good-byes to the beauty of this recent Easter Season and look forward to the gift of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost, may we hear Jesus’ words addressed to us as 21st century disciples: "…may they share my joy completely…keep them from the Evil One…consecrate them in truth…." Jesus’ love for each of us continues, and we are challenged to accept and witness and spread that love in our daily lives. In a very real sense, our "good-byes" are transformed by Jesus into messages of joy and welcome.
To which we say: Amen! Alleluia!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.