Monday, 30 May 2011


Nunraw - 'Nun's Walk'
Homily for 6th Sunday of Easter, 2011
This time of year in the liturgy we are living through the resurrection experience of Jesus. We are being shown how that burst of new energy and life was put into his followers.

We are being made more aware, at the same time, of Jesus’ imminent leave-taking. All departing can be difficult. Members of families leave the maternal home to set up a place of their own; loved ones go abroad, perhaps never to be seen again; and, there is the final parting of death.
Whenever we do experience a parting, a change takes place in those who are left behind. Parents must allow their children stand on their own two feet and look to the future. The young ones need to explore the world for themselves, hopefully with the experience and earlier training their parents gave them to guide them. Young married couples must be left to live their new life together and to learn from their own mistakes. In the case of death in a family, there is the responsibility of creating a new centre of focus for the family’s future.

Today in the gospel reading, Christ tells his disciples he must leave them. They had gone through the trauma of his death on the cross but he had come back to them. Now he tells them that he is now really going away for good. They had lost him but had found him again. Now they were going to lose him once and for all. Life is full of uncertainties and sometimes of false hopes. The disciples seem to have had more than their fair share of those. But human hope springs eternal. That is what the disciples have learnt through the Lord’s resurrection and ascension to his Father. We too have to learn that lesson.

We know now that death is a gateway to a fuller life. That all departing is another beginning for those who leave but also for those who are left behind.

The risen Lord had to go back to the Father. He had come from the Father. His return however was different because he took with him his risen human nature. And that difference allowed him to prepare a place so that we could be with him and with the Father.

After Jesus’ ascension his disciples were empowered to take his message of hope, love and service to their hearts. They would now grow in their understanding of their mission. Now they began to really understand what Jesus had taught them. Through their new-found conviction Jesus would speak through their words and live through their lives. They learned themselves as they preached to others. They would preach the message of reconciliation with God and with one another after sin had cut them off from each other. They proclaimed the good news of peace and joy that comes from hearing and putting into practice what Jesus had taught them before his death. The disciples realised that they had to die to self and put their lives at risk if they were to be faithful to the truth that he taught them. That truth is a golden stone that needs to be handed on and lived by if the world is to be saved and to become one in mind and heart.

Being with friends is a heart-warming experience. In taking leave of them we normally plan to meet again. That lessens any sorrow there may be in the parting. Christ’s going to the Father gives that same, but deeper, dimension to our lives. There is a feeling of losing something in the leave-taking but we have the assurance that what we will receive later will be immeasurably greater than what we seem to have lost now.

Jesus himself said that if he did not go the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will not come to us. We might think of it as Jesus’ physical appearance which has to give way so that we can receive the Spirit which in some mysterious way is the risen Lord’s inner presence in us. The life of the risen Jesus dwells in our deepest being. When we are given that then we will truly live with him and speak for him. That is how we will be able to give his message to the world.