Before I became a Passionist, I was involved in lay ministry for three years. Each year I was located in a different town/parish in Missouri (Marceline, Chamois, St. Louis). In each locale, I developed friendships as I reached out to youth and seniors alike. Finally, at the conclusion of each year, there was the going away party replete with hugs and goodbyes.
Now as a parish missionary, my experience is similar. I enter various communities for a short week of preaching. After my week of ministry, there is the farewell reception with hugs, handshakes, and smiles all around.
This is a taste of what Paul was going through in today’s reading. After spending three full years of his life with the community at Ephesus, Paul was saying his goodbyes. There were prayers, hugs, tears, and even kisses. Paul had brought God’s Word and his very self into this community. Now it was time to move on. Like his Master, "we must go to the other towns and villages and proclaim the Good News." The call of a missionary is not static but dynamic. It involves many hellos and goodbyes. Some of these goodbyes can be heart wrenching.
Like Jesus and Paul in our readings, we Passionists are "sent" into the world. It is God’s Word of inspiration and hope that we bring with us. We encounter many people along the way. There are multitudes of hellos and goodbyes. While it is difficult to come and go, we surrender to the call. Since Jesus sends us, we keep moving knowing God will work in us and through us to touch people’s lives.
Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. is a missionary preacher, author of 14 books and creator of television and radio programs airing in many cities. You can learn more about his ministry at: http://www.frcedric.org/