Wed, 5/27/20: "I consecrate myself for them"
Today's readings can be found: [HERE].
In our first reading (Acts 20:28-38), Saint Paul completes his goodbye message to the Ephesians. When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly 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.
It was time for Saint Paul to leave the Ephesians, because there was nothing more that he could do for them. God had revealed to Paul that that would be their last encounter in this life. But it was fine. Paul had helped strengthen the Church at Ephesus. He left them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although physically separated, they would continue to be with one another spiritually wherever the Mass was celebrated in the world.
This is because Jesus Christ is the fulcrum of human existence, and he is one with his Church. At every altar in the world, Christians are unified in Jesus Christ risen from the dead, who is no longer bound by the limitations of time nor space.
In our gospel passage, Jesus continues his goodbye discourse. It was sorrowful that he was going to depart from his disciples for a time. But it was okay, because Jesus consecrated himself for them, leaving them himself in the Eucharist. Jesus would continue to be with them whenever the Mass was celebrated.
In our own day, goodbyes can be hard for us, because relationships are important to us and help us actualize ourselves. As relational creatures, we need social interaction to develop. Our capacity for language, which makes community possible, is just one example that points to the reality that human beings aren't meant to live in isolation from one another.
And so, when we separate from one another, we might feel as if we're losing an essential aspect of ourselves. But physical distance does not destroy our community; it expands it. Naturally, we see this happen when children leave the safety of the home to begin families of their own. The community of the home isn't destroyed; it goes beyond itself like seed that is scattered. When someone moves from one job to another; the skills and experience he or she acquired at the former workplace gets utilized in the new workplace. Students who are educated at one school use that knowledge and teach others at places to which they go after their graduation.
Spiritually, disciples also separate from one place to another to begin new Christian communities or to strengthen existing Christian communities.
While goodbyes can be difficult, they can be done in peace, when we know that we leave in our wake Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, who preserves our friendships and community despite any sort of social distance. May God bless you.
Jean Restout, Miracles of St. Paul at Ephesus, 1693