Goodbyes Can Be Hard

Goodbyes can be hard. Sometimes they are filled with joy as well as sadness; sometimes they are more about sadness. We say goodbye to family and friends that move away, we say goodbye to children who go off to college, we say goodbye at a funeral. My children sometimes get mad at me if I leave the house without saying goodbye and telling them I’m leaving, even if it is just for a quick errand. “Dad, you didn’t tell me you were leaving! I didn’t know where you were!”

Isn’t it interesting that the accounts in the Bible of The Ascension of Jesus don’t show us any sadness? This was ‘goodbye’ for the apostles. Their Lord ascended into Heaven, and said goodbye to them, giving them a mission to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. If anything, there is a joy that comes over the apostles as they begin their mission.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus tells them that “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” I believe this is in part why there was no sorrow on the part of the apostles. They knew that even though the Son had left them, He was still with them. Shortly after the ascension they received the Power of The Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They knew that their Lord was still with them, even though he had ascended into Heaven. Jesus had spent forty days with them after his resurrection, and had prepared them to go out and “make disciples of all nations.” They knew that he was returning to his Father, and that he was assuming his place in Heaven. They were at peace with saying goodbye to the man who had been the most important person in all of their lives, because they had a true understanding of who he was, their relationship with him, and their subsequent mission in his name.

As we continue on our never-ending journey of faith, how can we relate to the Apostles at this moment? Are we confident that our relationship with Jesus is the most important part of our life? Do we feel we have a true understanding of who Jesus is, and are we happy in our relationship with him? Are we confident we are doing everything we can to live out the mission of our baptismal calling in his name?

Our Father knows that these are hard questions. That’s why he sent us the Holy Spirit. That’s why he gave us our Church. We are not alone. As we continue that journey of faith, let us open ourselves even more to where God is guiding us, and open ourselves to the love and support of our faith community. Let us never feel like Jesus has left us. In difficult times, let us look at all he has left and given us, and bask in his love and mercy.

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Goodbyes can be hard. As you are most likely already aware, I will be leaving my position as Youth Coordinator at St. Peter’s on June 15. I have been at St. Peter’s for almost nine years, and it has been a wonderful, faith-filled experience for me and my family. My family and I have come to love this parish, and have been parishioners for the past 8 years in addition to my position on staff. My wife and I want to thank all the people of St. Peter’s for their love and support during that time. St. Peter’s has truly felt like our spiritual home. Our children have grown up here, and it has been wonderful to share so many experiences with so many people.

On a personal note, I want to thank all the parents who have entrusted me with the care of their children the past 9 years. You trusted me with their spiritual formation, and to try to bring them closer to God and grow in their love of the Church. It is my hope that I met the expectations you had, and that we were able to plant seeds of faith that will grow throughout their lives. I always took that responsibility seriously, and I don’t take for granted the magnitude of the faith that you placed in me. Thank you for the privilege of working with your children.

I don’t know where God’s plan will take me next. Our family hasn’t decided yet if we will remain parishioners or not. But I am not worried. I know that The Holy Spirit will continue to guide me and my family, and that our relationship with Jesus will always sustain us. And I know that the faith-filled people of St. Peter’s will continue to prosper in my absence. Thank you for the past 9 years, and know that you will always be in my prayers, wherever my future journeys take me.

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