Today's readings [display_podcast]
The two readings we have in today’s Liturgy of the Word are a bit of a coincidence. We have been reading, these Easter days, sequentially from the Acts of the Apostles in the first reading, and for the Gospel from John. Today we see both central characters wrapping up their life’s work and taking leave of those they have ministered to and with.
In our first reading, St. Paul takes leave of the Church at Ephesus. He recalls that he has been diligent in preaching the Truth to them, and clearly feels that he has lived his vocation as best he could. He takes leave of them, knowing he will not see them again, but confident that his preaching and example, if carefully followed, would lead them to the Lord. He could not be held responsible for any of them finding they had lost the way.
In the Gospel, Jesus prepares to take leave of his apostles and disciples, and is offering a prayer to his Father. He prays that his death would glorify the Father – which of course it would! – and prays for those he will leave behind. He too knows that his preaching and example would lead them where he was soon to go. He in a sense gives them back to the Father, since their lives had been reclaimed by his ministry.
We all have people for whom we are responsible. They may be children, spouses, students, coworkers, neighbors. Some people have been put in our lives for the express purpose of their formation in the Gospel. We are expected to preach the Truth to them, in word and most especially in example. When we have done that to the best of our ability, we know that when the day comes to take leave of them, they will have all the tools to live a life of faith and find their way to God.
And so today we pray for those for whom we are responsible. We cannot live their lives for them; all we can do is to teach them as best we can and provide the best example possible. We pray for them, knowing that God can bring to fruition whatever it is that we have planted.