Homily – May 16

In today’s gospel we find ourselves on the Mount of Olives. It is from this significant place Jesus takes his physical, visible leave of the apostles. From that windswept place He could see the holy city Jerusalem. He could see the road he traveled in triumph into that city on that day we call Palm Sunday. It was on this mountain he wept over Jerusalem, grieving that its people refused to accept the gracious time and teaching he offered them. Looking down from the mountain Jesus could see the Garden of Gethsemane where, sweating blood, he prayed for his life. It was there he was betrayed by Judas, abandoned by Peter and the others and the events of his passion and death began to unfold.
After his resurrection he tried to convince his disciples that he was to return to his father and that it was for their own good that he go, but that he would be with them in a new way. For a while they would have to rely on their own resources but that would end when Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to them. The Spirit would transform their lives and with the eyes of their heart enlightened they would come to know the hope to which they were called. The Spirit would help them get their heads around the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for those who believe in Him and how they would work in that power.
Have you ever had the experience of knowing that it might be good to have spaces in your togetherness for a while, that absence does make the heart grow fonder?
When sons or daughters go off to university or take jobs in distant cities parents have anxious moments. Will they be all right, will they get enough to eat, what will their living conditions be like, will they eat properly, will they watch how much they drink, and will they make good friends? Will they be safe? Good parents know that by hanging on too tightly, by not giving sons and daughters the space in which to be absent, to be on their own, they can stunt their sons or daughter’s growth and deprive them both of that day when they can come together as adults and enjoy a truly adult relationship, a relationship that will allow both to grow as persons.
The disciples did not want to hear Jesus say to them, it is better for you that I go away. If I do not go away I cannot send you the spirit. You will grieve now but later you will rejoice. Our separation is for your good. Remember Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene: “do not cling to me!”
In our own struggles to live our Christian life there will be times when we are more aware of the absence of God than God’s presence. There will be times when we feel God is not there to see us through rough times. There will be times when prayer is like pounding on a locked door. These can be times of spiritual growth for us, times when our trust in a loving God is tested but grows stronger.
On this feast of separation and promise we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we trust the meaning of this feast,“it is good for you that I go.” May we be blessed to know that it is during these times when we feel the absence of God that God is closest to us helping us grow in our faith in Him. May we always trust the truth that our final destiny it to be with the Risen Christ forever.