“Now I am going to the one who sent me and not one of you asks
me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled
your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go for
if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send
him to you.”
Today’s reading from John speaks poignantly to me. Graduation is a week away.
Every time I turn around, I’m hugging a senior turning in a last paper. Just
as it was better for Jesus to go, our seniors must leave. But like the disciples,
we grieve a bit in anticipation of the coming departures.
Transitions are hard. We dread giving up the good times, places and people
in our lives in the hope and anticipation of moving on to even better. This
is where faith moves in. We simply have to learn to entrust our lives to
Even when terrible things happen, we do not abandon hope that good will come
from our suffering. It has always struck me as ironical that a personal tragedy
often lies at the root of much of the good that people do. I’m thinking
of the daughter of a friend who turned her nightmarish experience with rape
into a national crusade to reduce the stigma from which rape survivors suffer
or the way the Eunice Kennedy Shriver created Special Olympics because of
her family’s experience with a retarded sister. There are countless examples
of learning and growing from pain and then reaching out to others in need.
The first reading reminds us that much of how we will fare in life depends
on how we respond to what befalls us. The earthquake provides a path
to salvation that the jailer would never otherwise have found. It wasn’t
inevitable. The jailer could have returned Paul and Silas to captivity or
walked away from them, shaking his head at their stupidity in staying.
I pray that our seniors will realize that God offers the hope of turning
sorrow into joy and suffering into help for others if only they respond to
the promptings of the Advocate that Jesus sent his disciples and us.