Acts 20: 28-38
Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them.
Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothing. You know for yourselves that I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions.
In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
When he had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again. Then they brought him to the ship.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Many of us have had the experience of saying goodbye to a loved one, a goodbye which was sooner than any of us wanted and much unexpected caused by an illness. The goodbye had many deep emotions imbedded within it. We are sad we will no longer see the person we deeply love, the death of a promise. We are also relieved they are out of their suffering. They are going to see our Lord. Our loved ones often encourage us to go on and to be strong, even while they are facing death.
Today’s reading is full of many emotions: sadness, love, joy, and the unknown. We hear Paul saying goodbye to his friends and those he had been with for three years. Paul speaks of his dedication to the gospel and his willingness to suffer for the gospel. He speaks of the Church built with Christ’s own blood by his death and resurrection. Paul warns them that many disciples will leave the flock because they will not be strong in faith.
I am sure Paul was very sad but he was strong. He needed to share his feelings and love with those he was leaving behind to encourage them, give them hope. Paul did not ask for any worldly goods, just to be united with Christ.
Please allow yourself to receive when our Lord gives everything to us in his body and blood at the Eucharist. Are you ready to be dedicated to the gospel and willing to suffer for the gospel?
—Bob Thomas is Executive Director and CEO of Rainbows for All God’s Children, Evanston IL
Heavenly Father, please help me to give and to not count the cost. To spread your word in my thoughts and actions. To help those in need, to unite with them in prayer and the unity of the Eucharist where we all become strong and filled with hope. Amen