Seventh Sunday of Easter
Jn 17:20-26
May 29, 2022

As a 73-year-old orphan, I have come to a deep appreciation for the importance of absence. It was only after my parents died…and were forever absent…that I came to understand how much I longed for their presence.

When I was young and immature, and struggling to be independent, I looked for every opportunity to “be on my own.” But now that they are gone from this world, I am constantly turning to them for advice, guidance, consolation, comfort, and support…but they are not here. In a very real way, their absence has had a more powerful impact on me than their presence had.

Their absence has helped me to understand what a gift it is to be dependent on my parents’ love and wisdom and generosity. Their absence enables me to fully appreciate all they did for me…the very things, that, because of my own immaturity, I took for granted.

Finally, their absence motivates me to recover and treasure memories of life lessons that they struggled to teach…and as a kid, lessons I all too often resisted or ignored.

Everyone who has lost someone who provided all that a loving and caring parent gives to their children fully understands that absence makes room for a mature appreciation of what seems to be lost…but, in fact, is in safe keeping in our memories…and in our hearts.

The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is a coming-of-age story about the early Church. All three Readings somehow describe The Risen Christ, after a period of time, ABSENTING HIMSELF from the Apostles and disciples, leaving them with His promise that He would not leave them orphaned.

By returning to where He had come from, Christ gave His first followers the space to mature and grow. And with that space came all the benefits of “absence” without the sense of loss…because He kept His promise to send the Holy Spirit to dwell with and within the Church…continuing to provide guidance, consolation, comfort and support, peace and love!

As we wait for The Lord’s return…because that is an important part of today’s Feast, the promise that Christ will return, we are called to accept with appreciation and use with great enthusiasm all that Jesus gave to His followers when He was physically present to them. We have available to us all that they enjoyed before the Son returned to The Father. In the Gospel and through the Eucharist, what the world might regard as absent…is very much present.

If we could only appreciate what has been entrusted to us with maturity…like grownups…we would be more capable of meeting the great challenges of our times with the same courage and conviction of our ancestors in faith.

And of course…we have the Holy Spirit! We have not been left orphaned.

Maybe this Feast…and these Readings could be summed up with a few words that, now and again, we all need to hear: GROW UP! THERE’S LOTS OF WORK TO BE DONE.