Parents, you have the toughest job in the world. Challenges in the priesthood are small by comparison.
First of all, you and your spouse had the courage to have a family. You took the plunge and brought your babies into the world. You knew your life would be forever changed.
Then you washed them and fed them and held them close to your heart. You protected them with your own life in the balance sometimes. You taught them right from wrong as best you could. You wondered, painfully at times, if they had any idea just how much you loved them.
And then . . . they went away. They took that first step out of your arms. They got on the school bus for the first time. Later they were embarrassed to be seen with you by their friends. They met someone whom they loved as much as you (maybe more). They married; they started a new home (away from yours); and now, you see that was the plan from the beginning.
And, to all this you parents said, “Yes!” Because you knew they had to go away in order to become more than your child. They had to become what God wanted them to be . . . an adult. It isn’t easy, but it’s the way it’s supposed to be. Fr. John and I think you are heroes.
Well, guess what? It’s the same with Jesus but in reverse. Your child had to leave you to become a full person. Jesus has to leave us so we can become “fully mature in Christ . . . no longer infants.” Ephesians 4: 13.
Think, if Jesus had stuck around here for over 2000 years; generation after generation would have been born, lived and died while Jesus, (who had already died and then raised to new life) would not have aged a day.
Every day social media would follow him to see if he had done any miracles. Politicians would stand in line to get his blessing or maybe even his endorsement. The United Nations would be calling him 24/7 to settle this or that dispute. Court rooms would be empty as everyone stood in line for Jesus to render judgements about what is just.
The worst part is we would most likely be standing around waiting for Jesus to do it all. Want justice? Want an end to war? Want food for the hungry? Want someone to care? “That’s not my job. You’ll have to see Jesus about that one. He’s the Son of God.”
But, that’s not how Jesus wanted us to be. Rather, he calls us his friends (because, unlike slaves, we know what our Master is about. He’s shared with us everything he received from his Father, John 15:15) and now as he goes away he sends us into the world with his message and the power of God – – – the Holy Spirit.
He instructs us to do as he has done to us: to wash the feet of the poor, to forgive our enemies, to turn the other cheek, “to love one another as I have loved you.”
We are no longer children tied to mom’s apron. We are the grown children of God. St. Paul calls us “Ambassadors for Christ – God as it were, appealing through us.” 2 Cor. 5:20.
Jesus wants you and me to partner with him. We’re called to share in his sufferings and experience his joy. But, in order for that to happen, Jesus has to go away.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
Yours in Christ, Fr. Tim