June 1, Wednesday, Seventh Week of Easter
Daily Readings: Acts 20:28-38; Gospel: John 17:11b-19
God would never say goodbye to us. God's presence is palpable in those who enthusiastically greet us.
As Sergio Mendes sang: "The trouble with hello is goodbye!" It is genuinely tough to leave behind and say goodbye to people you love, friends you play with, or family you live with.
I was newly ordained when I was assigned to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines, as an assistant parish priest. I tremendously enjoyed my pastoral work with the people. After two years of my stay, I had to leave the parish for a new assignment. I cried a lot saying goodbye to the parishioners, praying to God to bless them.
Today's Gospel and the First Reading both have the same emotional sentiment. Jesus was already feeling sad, realizing that He was going back to the Father, leaving behind His disciples and friends. " Lifting his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one." When I was with them, I protected them in the name that you gave me, and I guarded them..."
When St. Paul was preparing to leave his friends at Ephesus, he experienced a similar emotional climate. When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them all. " They were all weeping as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again.
Both readings tell us that as Jesus and St. Paul bid farewell to their disciples and friends with so much sorrow, they prayed to God the Father, lifting their sadness to Him.
And with God, "goodbye" is never permanent! After all, there is another "hello," and great joy in meeting them again is imminent!
I had several visits to my friends in Sablayan. It was with great joy to be with my friends again. I realized that if we offer our sadness to God in saying "goodbye" to our friends, there is another "hello," this time with so much fun and happiness!
Let us present all of our sufferings to God.
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